Where do we draw the line when someone wrongs us? It’s different for each person, of course, but as a general rule, we usually give our family a bit more leeway than we would allow a stranger. Sometimes, a close friend might be lumped into the “family” category, too. But what about a neighbor? You have to live next to them, and having tensions can get awkward…
Now, what if that neighbor is a close friend and a family member? One man didn’t see the solution until it met him unexpectedly.
Once upon a time two brothers, who lived on adjoining farms, fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a conflict. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s tool box. “I’m looking for a few days’ work” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?”
“Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you.”
“Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbor; in fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll do him one better.”
“See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence –an 8-foot fence — so I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.”
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.
The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge — a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all — and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched.
“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.” The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand.
They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother. “I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but I have many more bridges to build.”
Could these brothers have worked out their problems on their own? It doesn’t seem like they’d get there without a little nudge. This situation was peculiar in that they had a lot more to lose than just a neighbor or a friend…they were also family. For these two, they didn’t realize that they had boundaries until it was almost too late. If more of us were able to think like this carpenter, our world would probably be a much better place…
To see more inspiring articles and uplifting content, check out Happy Tango every day! If you loved what you saw here then like and share this with the links below!