Ode to the Evergreen Bridge….

Bridge the gap in your relationships!


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 hitch.

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 Carpenter
“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. He recently 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 and 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 that stretched 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 middle, taking each others hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.

“No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve many 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.”

– Anonymous

I received this message as a “forward” on my email account some time back and very nearly deleted it – without wanting to reading a word of it, of course. Something – I don’t know exactly what – convinced me that I ought to read the mail at least once – if I didn’t like it, I could always delete it later. I’m so glad that I read the message right through to the end because I enjoyed every bit of it  – it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful emails that I’ve received in a very long time and I’ve kept these evergreen words ingrained in my mind – ready to use each time that I encounter a challenging situation in my life. You would do well to remember these words too – we have enough problems in our own lives without adding to our burden of woes. Make your burden lighter by imbibing these simple words of wisdom.

One of the tragedies of contemporary, stressful urban life is loneliness. On the whole, it is true to say that we live amongst people who are growing increasingly more indifferent,  more callous and  more self-centered, with the passage of each day. Isolation and aloofness have become the norm today. Just imagine how it would be, if in this hostile and unfriendly environment, people started building the ‘proverbial wall‘ around themselves instead of the ‘blessed bridge’? These walls and bridges are not designed by architects nor constructed by masons with bricks and mortar. They are – rather – the figurative barriers that people create around themselves for a variety of reasons. This ‘wall’ acts as a protective insulation against what some might feel are ‘private’ matters’ – they do not want either their family members or close friends to breach that barrier that forms their barricade of security against the world. At other times, people create walls, in the literal sense – it is much easier, as a form of passive aggression, to avoid unpleasant issues such as confrontation which could (and do) lead to bitter quarrels where grievances are held against the offending party for years together. What an incredible waste of one’s precious time and energy!

One more compelling reason for creating a barrier – if a very painful issue is buried very deep in one’s unconscious mind as to  be irretrievable, except in the form of therapy  – then one’s conscious mind will be aware only of vague feelings of fear, dread, anxiety, uneasiness or panic because the unconscious mind has effectively repressed – for all intents and purposes – an unpleasant truth trying to push its way upwards to the surface of one’s psyche. Well, the list for creating walls around ourselves can go on and on……we won’t discuss them further.

People may not necessarily be alone but they may feel lonely because they’ve cut off their family and friends, very effectively, from their lives and consequently created a huge communication gap.  It is important to remember too that some people create walls around themselves because they would like to know who cares enough to break them down – these people can only be your close family and true friends. Don’t cut them off!

The pertinent question at the end of it all is therefore – “Why do we create walls around ourselves when an evergreen bridge is just waiting to be built?”  Each brick of this bridge might take several years to construct and much sweat and toil may go into its making. Every struggle that goes into its construction is worthwhile  because each of its bricks constitutes the following – trust, faith, hope and respect. Who can honestly live without these virtues?

Anyone can make a wall but it takes strength of character to make a bridge. Perhaps you should not count your age by the number of years that you’ve spent living and breathing on this Earth – but rather by the number of successful and durable bridges in relationships that you made along the way!