Why would you want to open a butcher shop on a bridge? For that matter why would you want to build any sort of shop on a bridge. In around the 13th Century butchers, fishmongers and tanners, in particular, began building shops on the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), that crosses the Arno River in Florence.
The shops are still there today though they are mainly jewellers and other merchants that cater to tourists. In fact, it was in 1593, when Ferdinand I decreed that only goldsmiths and jewellers were allowed to have their shops on the bridge in order to improve the well-being of people as they walked over the bridge.
While the idea of having a shop on a bridge doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, it certainly got my attention, and when we were in Florence last year I loved taking photographs of the Ponte Vecchio from a range of different angles.
It seems to me that building a shop on a bridge is something you do when you can’t make up your mind which side of the river you want to establish your business. There are certain advantages in being one side, but there may be greater advantages on being on the other side. Then again, what if it were on this side ….? Oh dear. I can’t decide. I’ll just build it on the bridge.
Jesus told the story about a man who built his house on a foundation of stone and when the storms came the house remained firm. He compared that with the man who built his house on the sand and it collapsed during the next storm. He said: Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
When we’re indecisive about the words of Jesus, we may as well be building our lives on a foundation of sand – or building on a bridge. Will I follow Jesus, or is that too hard? A bit of religion is OK … maybe I’ll keep my options open. I don’t need to worry too much about that till I’m older.
Building on a bridge may seem cool, but not if it’s because you’re unwilling to make the decision which side of the bridge you really belong. I made the decision that I belong on God’s side and I’m glad I’m no longer sitting on the bridge wondering if I’ve made the right decision or not.