Thursday, 25 February 2016

Building Bridges.

The Forth Rail Bridge.

For many years I lived near and crossed in train the beautiful Forth Rail Bridge. It is a work of art that has stood the test of years of wind and rain. Next to it stands the Forth Road Bridge, built in my lifetime. I watched as it spanned the river Forth. Hailed as a feat of engineering it is now under constant state of repair and problems. It is now unable to cope with the heavy daily traffic expected of it. Yet there it stands bringing together Fife and Lothian and the regions beyond.

A third bridge is in the process of being built. it is fascinating to watch as the roadway reaches out from each side, and from the middle to add yet another link across a very busy stretch of water. it is due to be open by the end of this year. 

I am sure it will look marvellous but I doubt if it will ever have the grandeur and wonder of the Rail Bridge. 

I lived close to this bridge in my childhood and one of my close friends grandmother lived directly under it. She never need a clock she could tell the time by the trains crossing over it. 

This brings me to my tale of wisdom and woe for this morning.

But before I begin. Today I will meet with my friends and we will once again attempt to set to rights the world around us. It is a fine company and I look forward to this weekly gathering. The one sad thing is that the company used to be one member larger. The missing member still will be in the place where we meet but he will be sitting alone. On a number of occasions I have tried to sort the rift but to no avail. When I asked him what was wrong he could not remember what the difference had been but he was not for changing. 

Once upon a time, two brothers 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 labour 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 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. 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 neighboor. In fact, it's my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river and changed its direction, now there is a river between us. 

Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll go him one better. See that pile of wood curing by the barn? I want you to build me a fence - an 8-foot fence - so I won't need to see his place anymore. Cool him down anyhow." 

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 for supplies, 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 stretching from one side of the river to the other! A fine piece of work - handrails and all - and the neighbour, his younger brother, was coming across, 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 on 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."

Everyday we have the choice of building fences or bridges. One leads to isolation and the other to openness.Those bridges may not be fine works of art but they stretch out bridge troubled waters. 

What will I? What will you build today? A bridge or a fence. 

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