A few days ago, during my morning meditation and journaling, the word FENCES came to mind. I was aware of the fences in the neighborhood as I took my walk later in the day. And as I drove to Iowa for the weekend, I was quite attentive to the fences along the way. Some were tall, some were short, some you couldn’t see through and others you could barely see a fence at all. Fences may be made of wood, wire, plastic or metal, stone and concrete. There are even have “invisible” fences, which send an electric pulse into a person or animal when they try to cross the boundary.
Fences are used for all kinds of things - around my pool, on my deck, the neighbors have one to keep their dogs in their yard. Fences are used to keep cattle, goats, sheep, horses and lots of other animals contained on the owner’s property. A fence will serve to keep the chickens in and to keep other critters out, such as foxes and coyotes. As with chickens, fences are used as barriers to keep us safe from the dangers inside or out. We protect young children by keeping them away from pools and ponds, we create boundaries around electrical and chemical equipment, and we provide barriers between roads to assist with keeping a driver from crossing into oncoming traffic. I saw fences created of hedge or pine trees to obscure unsightly scenery on the other side. There were fences that were broken, rusty, and pretty much useless as a fence.
Getting inside or outside of a fence may be challenging or easy. Some fences have gates that may be rusted shut from years of not being used. Other fences would open and close automatically as the trigger object approaches. Sometimes a gate only opens from the inside out or the outside in. And still others may have no opening at all and the only way in or out is either to climb over or crawl under.
I thought about the fences I have built around myself. My “fences” keep me safe and secure in a space that is familiar and comfortable. Sometimes, I use them to protect me from people or events I perceive as predators. I build a privacy fence around my heart and my feelings to keep others from hurting me, sort of like the fence around the chickens (hmmmm…. Is that why they’re called chickens???) Sometimes my fences cause me to feel constrained, closed in, and suffocating from lack of growth and expansion. I want to stretch my wings and fly, but I have built a fence that encloses me like a cage. Fear of change or doing something different, I hesitate to open the gate and step a foot outside the fence.
Often I tend to think that all these “fences” are bad. And yet, at some point, they really did serve to keep me safe from something I perceived as harmful. The questions to ask myself are, “How do they serve me now?” “Is that fence still necessary for my safety?” " Is that fence even doing the job for which it was created?" “What would it take to open or remove that fence?” And best of all, “What new opportunity or experience will I have by leaving the fence behind?”
Observe the fences you’ve built in your life. Determine if they still serve you and how. For those that are no longer needed, what will it take to remove them? Journal about your thoughts.