Fences intrigue me! There is a stretch of road going through the Virginia countryside, in a well to do farming/horse stabling community, that is lined with plantation style homes and pastures with fences. It’s easy to tell when land ownership changes, because of these fences! There are the crisscrossing type used in the Civil War era; neat, white, vinyl ones; weathered and worn “natural” ones; picket fences; black or brown painted ones; strong, rugged stone fences and even one that is painted yellow –the color you might see the yellow lines painted on a road.
Fences have the ability to project dominance, wealth, elegance and even a sense of gracefulness. They hold in strong, powerful horses, cattle of every description, meek minded sheep, a host of other farm animals, playful puppies and even small children.
Even as fences keep animals (and children) within their boundaries, they can also keep unwanted critters out. They create borders for humans to follow. Even passersby, like my husband and I, would think twice about crossing a fence that did not belong to us, as would most any trustworthy human. They indicate “this space belongs to someone specific!”
There was a time when fences were unheard of! Back when America was getting populated, animals roamed free without regard to who owned what land. The Native American traversed the land without worry that he may be on someone else’s land because of a designated fence. Granted they were aware of when they crossed boundaries of another tribe, even without a fence to designate it.
The white picket fence in front of a house in town, represented a family, often with children. The wife would be found inside, while the husband was off making a living to support his family. It indicated support and security. It, for a time, represented the American dream!
There are other fences, we as humans use, as well. I was chatting with a friend recently who said she doesn’t have any “close friends” because it hurts so much when they pass away. It’s like losing family. But went on to say, even with this mindset, she still has those she draws near. My friend has placed a “fence” around her heart to keep pain at bay. Does this work? It can, but there are ramifications, because depending on circumstances, some might feel they are being pushed away.
Parents sometimes place fences around their children, isolating them from things they feel they need to be protected from. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but over-protection can place them in a position to be unable to deal with the “real” world when faced with it as they get older.
Fences can be found in wealth, as well. The large, imposing, ornate fences imply they are “closing themselves in and away from anyone they believe is only after their material possessions!” The fence people place around their heart, while placed to protect and shield, ends up, sometimes, being harmful.
We are human, and need to be careful, but fences can shut out those we need to keep near. Our world has become cynical and hardened. When we open the gates to the “fences” we have created, we open opportunities for relationships, we might otherwise miss.