We've now reached the
the longest government shutdown
in our nation's history.
We're stuck on a wall.
is keeping us so
as a nation.
However you feel about it,
Let's not let this wall divide us.
Let's look for ways to build bridges instead.
Here's a story to help us on our journey...
Old Joe and the Carpenter
adapted from a telling by Pleasant de Spain
in Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About
by, Margaret Read MacDonald
(used with permission)
Old Joe lived way out in the countryside.
He had one good neighbor.
They’d been friends and neighbors all their lives.
But for the first time in their long friendship,
they had an argument.
It was a silly argument.
It was over a stray calf that neither one really needed.
The calf was found on the neighbor's land
and so he claimed it as his own.
But Old Joe said,
"No, that calf has the same markings as my favorite cow
and I'm sure it's mine."
Well, they were both a bit stubborn,
so they just stopped talking to each other.
And it seemed that a dark cloud had settled over Old Joe...
until there came a knock on his door.
He wasn’t expecting anyone that morning
and as he opened the door,
he saw standing before him a young man
who had a box of tools on his shoulder.
The young man said,
"I’m just a carpenter and I’m looking for a bit of work.
Would you have some small jobs here and there
that I could help with? "
Old Joe said,
"I do have a job for you.
Look right there through my kitchen window.
See that farm over there?
That’s my neighbor's place.
And you see that creek running
right between our property lines?
That creek wasn’t there last week.
My neighbor did that just to spite me!
He took his plow up there with the tractor
and he dug a furrow from the upper pond
and then he flooded it.
Well, I want you to do one better.
Since he wants us divided that way,
you go out there and build me a fence--
a big, tall fence--
so I won’t even have to see his place."
And the carpenter said,
"Well, if you have the lumber and the nails,
I have my tools and I can do a job that you'll like."
Joe had to go into town,
so he showed the carpenter
where everything was in the barn.
The carpenter carried everything he needed
down to the creek and he started to work.
He did his measuring...
and his sawing...
and his nailing...
It was about sunset
when Old Joe returned
and the carpenter had already
finished his work.
Old Joe's eyes opened wide and his mouth fell open...
because there wasn't a fence there at all.
It was a bridge,
going from one side of the creek to the other!
It was a fine piece of work.
Old Joe saw his neighbor starting to cross
from the other side of that bridge
with his hand stretched out in friendship.
His neighbor said,
"Joe, you’re quite a fellow to build this bridge.
I would never have been able to do that.
I’m so glad we’re going to be friends again!"
Old Joe put his arms around his neighbor and said,
"Oh, that calf is yours. I’ve known it all the time.
I just want to be your friend, too."
The carpenter started putting his tools in the box
and then hoisted it up onto his shoulder.
As he started to walk away, Old Joe said,
"Now wait, come on back!
We want you to stay.
My friend and I could find many projects for you."
The carpenter just smiled and said,
"I'd like to stay on, Joe, but you see, I can’t.
I have many more bridges to build."
"Meet in the Middle" is a Purple Living Room campaign encouraging people from across the political spectrum to meet together each week in order to find common ground. Each middle of the week (WEDNESDAY!) we'll post an update on Purple Living Room Project activities. Share YOUR progress on our Facebook group page or in the comments here. Our goal?