Until I began this series I never noticed how present and numerous fences are in our lives. They are everywhere– either to protect or to reject– to keep something in or keep something out. Fences remind me of the barriers we build, physical and psychological, around ourselves and our lives.
Some fences are fiercely forbidding: steel chain-link or sheets of gray corrugated tin topped with barbed wire and coils of knives, and patrolled by nervous attack dogs. Their message is perfectly clear: Keep Out.
But fences can be quite beautiful: weathered wood or stone, settled into a living landscape, aging gracefully, full of character. They have history. They have stories to tell.
The farther you go out from the cities, the simpler the fences become. Weather-beaten barn-wood, leaning, swaying, falling down. And the commonest ones, of simple posts and wire, are put there to keep the livestock from wandering, but other creatures including human beings can pass through, under, or over them with ease.
The farthest out, where only the highways and the trains go, the fences become barely visible, faint dotted lines across the vast sweep of the landscape, fading into grassy plains, mountains and sky. These might be the most beautiful fences of all, because they remind us how impossible it is to fence in anything that belongs to God. And after all, it all does.