POSTSCRIPT / January 2, 2005 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

Share This

Building bridges instead of walls...

BROTHERS’ ROW: 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 until 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 toolbox. “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 eight-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 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.”

* * *

HE’LL ASK YOU: Remember: God won’t ask what kind of car you drove, but He’ll ask how many people you helped get where they needed to go.

God won’t ask about the size or price of your house, but He’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

God wont ask about the clothes you had in your closet, but He’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.

God won’t ask how many friends you had, but He’ll ask how many people to whom you were truly a friend.

God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived, but He’ll ask how you treated your neighbors.

God won’t ask about the color of your skin, but He’ll ask about the content of your character.

God won’t ask why it took you so long to seek Salvation, but He’ll lovingly take you to your mansion in Heaven, and not to the gates of hell.

* * *

GOATS ON A BRIDGE: We received that story of the carpenter, author not indicated, from an email that has gone through countless forwarding but can stand retelling.

This being our first working day of the new year, not to mention its being a Sunday, we thought of sharing the story, with thanks to whoever wrote it and started it on its journey of touching lives.

Now from Fifty Famous Fables, by Lida Brown McMurry, we borrowed this related story (below) about two goats — and also a bridge:

A SMALL stream ran between two hills. Over this stream there was a very narrow bridge. If two persons came to the opposite ends of this bridge at the same time, one must wait for the other to cross before he could go over.

One morning, two goats, a black one and a white one, reached the opposite ends of the bridge at the same moment.

The black goat called out to the white one, “Hold on a minute; I am coming over.”

The white goat replied, “No, I will go over first; I am in a hurry.”

“No,” said the black goat, “I will not wait for you. I am the older.”

“You shall wait for me,” roared the white goat as he stepped upon the bridge and started across.

“We’ll see if I am to wait for you,” said the black goat, and he too started to cross.

They met in the middle of the bridge.

“Go back and let me cross,” said the white goat, stamping his foot.

“Go back, yourself,” replied the black goat, and he pushed against the other.

They were very angry. Each drew back and lunged at the other. Their heads came together with terrible force. They locked horns.

The white goat lost his footing and fell, pulling the black goat over with him. Both drowned.

* * *

BRIGHT IDEA: The stories above remind me of a series of drawings shown us in grade school also about two goats. Each animal was tied to either end of the same rope that was stretched between them.

They were facing in opposite directions and pulling, because about a meter away from each goat was a basket of fresh green grass. As each goat pulled to get to “its” grass, it pulled the other goat away from the grass at its other end of the rope.

However hard they pulled in opposing directions, each toward its own grass, they could not get to their respective basket.

Suddenly the idea dawned on them to stop pulling in opposite direction and, instead, share whatever grass there was for each of them.

Together, the two goats — still tied to each other –went to one basket first and ate the grass. Then, again together, they walked over to the other basket and finished off the rest of the food. Burp.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 2, 2005)

Share your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published.