Let the Fences Fall
When my wife and I moved into our house on Paul two years ago we reached out to and met our neighbors. But it wasn’t until we got a dog who barked a little too much that we decided to walk around to the street behind us and meet our neighbor over the fence. And so we went and met Esther, a kind 93-year-old woman with a 16-year-old dog. We introduced ourselves, left our phone number, and told her she could call us if she ever needed anything.
And then we didn’t see Esther again until a few months ago when we had a night of crazy high winds and the shared fence between the two of us came crashing down. I climbed into her yard and moved the fallen pieces of fence into our yard and tried to prop her beautiful rose bushes up. And then the next time Esther was in her backyard I went out and had a conversation with her. And over the next several weeks we continued to have conversations in our backyards. I got to know Esther there in that space where the fence between us once stood. We became real neighbors engaging in that sacred act of neighboring. It was beautiful.
I think we put fences up because they make us feel safer. We worry about how to protect ourselves, our homes, our things. We worry about how to protect our privacy. We worry about keeping our neighbors from seeing our children acting out. Our fear moves us to build fences between us and our neighbors.
Jesus tells people, look at the lilies of the field. They don’t toil or spin but they are dressed royally. Fences help me feel safe, but what a gift to have been able to actually get to know Esther. To have face to face conversations.
Of course, eventually, the fence got rebuilt. It’s called a good neighbor fence because it looks nice on both sides, but it put an end to our conversations. And I confess that I have not made that trip to the street behind to have a conversation with Esther.
Where have you put fences between you and your neighbors? Where have you allowed your fear to put up fences of protection? Where have you failed to love your neighbor? I have failed. I have sinned by separating myself from my neighbors.
In this season we call Lent, the season leading up to Easter, let us take time to reconnect with our neighbors, our authentic selves, and that which is bigger than ourselves. Let us remember all that is possible when we let the fences fall.