You may have heard this parable about forgiveness before. This little tale never gets old. If you haven’t heard it before, great. Because it’s always a good time to hear a story. So tune out of your busy day for a few minutes. Here’s a story of the bridge of forgiveness.
Two brothers had adjoining farms. For years, they worked in peace, with complete co-operation, sharing tools, providing mutual support and help whenever needed. But they fell into conflict once, and the rift began to increase over the years. There was exchange of bitter, spiteful words followed by a prolonged hostile silence. This went on for years.
One day a carpenter turned up at the door of the older brother.
‘I am looking for work.’ he said to him. ‘I have traveled for days in search of work. I will be grateful if you can assign me something to do for you. I am very skilled and I have all my tools with me.’
The brother thought for a while and an idea flashed in his mind.
‘My brother’s farm is next to mine.’ He told the carpenter. ‘A creek runs between our farms. You see we don’t get along anymore. And I want you to build a fence, at least eight feet high, over the edge of my farm. That way my brother cannot think of making any mischief to harm my farm. You may use the pile of lumber lying by my barn. Make it nice and strong. I will come in the evening to check on your progress.’
‘I think I understand your problem’ said the farmer. ‘I will do my best.’
The carpenter went to work. Whenever the older brother checked on him, he saw the farmer hard at work. He was happy and satisfied. But a few days later when the farmer went back to check on how the work was progressing, he was in for a surprise. The work was nearly finished. But it was not what he had asked of the carpenter.
Instead of building a fence, the farmer had built a bridge between the two farms. When the younger brother saw this, he was overcome with remorse. He came over to the older brother and embraced him. ‘I am so sorry.’ He said to him. ‘By building this bridge, you showed that you have a bigger heart.’
The older brother had tears in his eyes. He thanked the carpenter for his work.
‘I think my work here is done.’ said the carpenter smiling, and gathered his tools.
‘But I have some more work for you.’ said the older brother to him.
‘I am sorry’ said the carpenter. ‘I must be on my way now. There are many more bridges to build.’
When we are upset and hurt, building walls and fences may seem like the right thing to do. We all have our own stories for why we are right. And often we forget that so does the other person. But when we let our hearts moisten with tears, we soften. Forgiveness is the bridge that brings us closer to each other. But more importantly, that is the bridge that will bring us closer to ourselves so that we find our way to the other side. Look for the carpenter within you.
Nisha Joshi is the Chief Editor and Teaching Fellow of the Discovery Program of Touching Lives. For her, life is a constant journey of learning, loving, diving into the unknown. She wants to spread the light of stories, poetry and music to the world.