Perhaps I shouldn’t be so disgusted with Trump’s billions-dollar wall—it is an act of self (country) preservation, albeit in a grandiose, extremely expensive way. And we all do it. We all build walls of one sort or another—literally and figuratively—in order to keep something out or in and to protect ourselves. It’s not that boundaries aren’t important—they are imperative to the working order and preservation of a person, family, company, or country.
We live across the road from an inactive quarry whose perimeter is lined with a six-foot chain-link fence with three strands of barbed wire above that—a daunting barrier to anyone who is looking to lift a piece of granite. (Actually ‘lifting’ a piece of granite is the hard part.) As daunting a barrier as it is, there are many breeches of that secure fencing in just the short area I walk by each day. Last Sunday’s snow made under-the-fence trails evident. This trail is used by a fox, as I have seen her cross the road from quarry to woods on the other side. It must be a daily route, because the snow and grass have a path worn into them. Rabbits also use this path which is probably just fine with the fox!
Other frequent visitors to our yard and to the places along our road are deer. I have seen deer jump over three strands of barbed wire that surround cow pastures, but the tall chain-link and barbed wire fence is another story—especially when the doe has fawns. So they made another way.
They go under the fence, too!
I have never actually seen them do it—it must be a limbo sort of maneuver since the fence is pushed up only mid-thigh high on a short woman, but the tracks tell the story. Wild turkeys also use this trail when making their feeding rounds.
The inactive quarry is like a refuge for the deer and other creatures. Occasionally trucks and humans rumble through, but for the most part, it is quiet and unoccupied.
It is a safe nursery for fawns—I saw a young spotted one curled in a ball under the brush one spring.
A fence surrounds our garden, mainly to keep out the rabbits. It helps to keep the deer out, but they have been known to jump the fence and taste the maturing vegetables.
Pallet wood compost bins keep most of the leaves, food scraps, and lawn clippings in while letting rain, air, and chipmunks in, too, but it keeps the dog out.
Even decorative fencing makes a person walk around, if legs aren’t long enough to go over.
Burlap and landscape fencing protects young evergreens from munching deer and drying winter winds.
Sometimes walls just mark a border and are low enough to slow us down, lift our feet, or cause us to stumble if we aren’t paying attention.
Walls, fences, borders, boundaries, and barriers are necessary for the smooth operation of gardens, lives, quarries, companies and countries. But can we go too far? And what is the price we may have to pay for that fortified fortress?
The black and white heart
Closing down–it’s easy.
It comes from years of practice.
I won’t let myself get hurt.
Walls are built–stone is best:
Cold and hard–impenetrable.
But just as hurt cannot invade,
No warmth penetrates the fortress.
Love is deflected; it lay
useless on the cold earth at my feet.
If only it would follow the rules
then maybe I would let it in.
But it doesn’t–I can’t predict the road ahead.
But the road and years teach–have I learned….
to see where sight loses its power,
to hear the heart instead of words,
to smell the freshness of old life,
to touch the touch of God and love?
I wrote this poem years ago when I realized that I had lost love and joy and laughter and goodness and power in my life in order to protect myself and try to keep myself safe. The problem was compounded in that I built that wall when I was a child, and it was a reaction and not a well-thought-out plan with pros, cons, strategies, ramifications, and budget considerations—love and/or money. The ‘mortar’ that kept the wall tight and upright was the lies I told myself about why I needed the wall—and when you repeat a lie over and over again, it becomes your truth….until I realized that the wall didn’t really protect me at all. I still got hurt, rejected, ignored, and abandoned. My benefit to cost ratio was abysmal. The fear and hurt that built my wall didn’t go away—in fact, it reverberated back to me a thousand fold. It didn’t protect me from the wounds of life—it probably made me more vulnerable. And the costs in love, joy, peace, fun, and happiness were more than I care to compute. Looking back, there were times when the wall was ascended, the fence was pushed up, the burlap ripped down—by the animals in my life. There are reasons why a horse is a girl’s best friend, why a dog is man’s best friend. Which gets us back to Love. Fear builds walls, and Love finds a way to scale them and tear them down. Wounded hearts and childish ways do whatever they can for self-preservation, but as we put our childish ways behind us, what are we if we have not Love? *
*1 Corinthians 13