Building Walls...and Bridges

Over the past months, much time and energy – not to mention a partial U. S. government shutdown - has been spent debating immigration policies, specifically as it relates to our southern border security. The center of the issue - building a wall. A complicated subject, complicated further by determining what type of wall, fence or barrier will work best with the variable physical landscape of the border expanse and then how to monitor that structure. Security is an important issue, whether it is environmental or personal. The question is, are we building walls for the right reasons - to stay safe by distancing ourselves from danger? Building literal walls or using judicial-legal means to protect ourselves and loved ones from unhealthy situations and relationships is the correct course of action.

As Christians, can we sometimes be too quick to react and be too slow in forgiving; erecting walls, when another type of structure would work better?

Once upon a time, two brothers that lived on adjoining farms; John, the eldest, and Joshua, the youngest, had a terrible fight. It was the first serious rift in 40-years of farming side- by-side; sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed. The relationship began to fall apart over some slight misunderstanding and grew until 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 shabby, little man with an ancient carpenter’s tool box in his hands. “I’m looking for a few days of work,” he said. “Perhaps you have a few small jobs here that I could help with?”

“Yes,” said John, “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, but he took his bulldozer to it and now there is a creek. He did this to spite me, but I’ll do him even better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build an eight-foot wall so that I won’t see his face, or place, anymore.”

The carpenter said, “I’ll do a job that is sure to make you happy.” John helped the carpenter get ready and then he was off for the day.

The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing and nailing. When John returned at sunset, the carpenter had just finished his job. John’s jaw dropped. There was no wall! Instead the carpenter had built a bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! It was a beautiful piece of work with handrails and all.

John’s brother, Joshua, crossed the bridge and with tears in his eyes, hugged him. “John, you’re a better man than I am to build this bridge after all that I have said and done.” The happy brothers turned to see the carpenter hoisting his toolbox onto his shoulder.

John said, “No, wait! Please, stay a few days. I have a lot of other projects for you.”

“Thank you, I’d love to stay,” said the carpenter, “but there are so many more bridges still to be built.”

Here’s to recognizing when to build a bridge…

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