Once upon a time, two friends who lived on adjoining properties at Smith Mountain Lake, fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of living side-by-side, sharing boats and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.
Then the long friendship fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding over someone not re-filling the gas can they used to mow the grass, and it grew into a major fight. Finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence and avoiding each other.
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? I would be glad for the work.”
“Yes,” said the older of the 2 friends. “I do have a job for you. Look across the ravine there to the property on the other side. That’s my neighbor Sam Brown’s place. In fact, he was once my best friend! Last week there was a pretty woodland in there. But he recently took his bulldozer in and wiped out the trees and created that ravine 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 8-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 believe I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
John 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, pounding and nailing. About sunset when John returned from town, the Carpenter had just finished his job.
John’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.
Instead there was a bridge…. A bridge that stretched from one side of the ravine across to the other! A fine and beautiful piece of work, handrails and all! And his friend Sam, was coming toward them on the bridge, his hand outstretched….
“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done,” Sam said. I am really sorry about my part in all this foolishness. Nothing is worth destroying a friendship as valuable as ours.
The two friends stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in 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 John.
“I’d love to stay on,” the Carpenter said, “but I have many more bridges to build.”