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Building New Bridges

As we welcome another New Year, here is a short allegorical story which has the power to brighten not just this day, but all the moments to come to create for us a great year ahead.

Once upon a time, two brothers, Mart and Pete, who lived on adjoining farms fell out with each other. In all the years of trust and understanding before the rift, they shared each other’s burdens, sought advice from one another, and lived in harmony and peace. It was the first serious rift in 20 years of farming as neighbours and good friends. They used to share machinery, trading labour and goods as needed without any hesitation.

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It began with a small misunderstanding which grew into an enmity, and finally, exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of uncomfortable silence. There were now seemingly unbreakable barriers between the two brothers. 20 years is a long time to cement any relationship and yet there seemed to be a reason for differences of opinion so much so that it resulted in a severance of ties. Days turned into months, and it was never the same again. Mutual anger and mistrust were thick in the air, and no effort was made by either of them to make amends.

One morning there was a knock on Mart'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 I could help with? Could I help you?"

"Yes," said the older brother, who felt he could use this man to get back at his brother without too much trouble to himself. “Sweet revenge” is what he mumbled to himself.

"I do have a job for you. Do you see the creek at that farm? That belongs to my neighbour, who is my brother Pete. Last week there was a meadow between us. 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. Do you 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 bitterness was quite plain in his voice, but the carpenter simply smiled and calmly 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."

Mart had to go to town, so, he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and was off for the day. The skilful woodsman worked hard all day long - measuring, sawing and nailing. It was sunset when Mart returned, and saw that the job had been completed.

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Mart’s eyes opened wide, and 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 neighbour, his younger brother Pete, was coming towards him across the bridge, his hand outstretched.

"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done," Pete said warmly to his brother. The two brothers met in the middle of the bridge, with tears in their eyes, 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 Mart.

"I'd love to stay on," the warm hearted carpenter said, "but I have many more bridges to build...."

Bhagavan Baba often tells us:

“When you are confronted with problems and difficulties you should not get upset, and become victims of depression which is a sign of weakness. In such a situation, you should bring tolerance and an attitude of forgiveness into play and should not get agitated giving rise to anger, hatred and revengeful attitude. You are embodiments of strength and not weakness. Therefore, in times of despair, fill yourself with the feeling of forbearance and be ready to forgive and forget. This quality of Kshama (forgiveness) is the greatest power of a human being.”

Bhagavan wants us to lead a life of peace, forgiving those who have hurt us, and in turn, not hurting others. It is the Lord who is ever waiting to play the role of the ‘carpenter’ in our lives, building bridges where there was and is mistrust and anger. This new year let us allow ourselves to feel the joy of forgiveness, and share it with others too. Just like our ever compassionate Lord who forgives us for our failings, whether we realise it or not, let us not dwell on events that pull us down. Let us trust the Divine Carpenter, and eventually become a skilful Divine Workman ourselves!

Illustrations: Ms. Lyn Kriegler Elliott

- Heart2Heart Team

Dear Reader, did this article inspire you in any way? Do you have a similar story to share? Please tell us your reflections about this article by writing to mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

To access all the previous stories of inspiration, please click here.

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Vol 7 Issue 01 - JANUARY 2009
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