Wrapping around three acres of land in front of me stand 153 posts and 474 rails made of South Dakota pine. Looking at the posts, I begin to imagine the long and tedious process to craft each piece. Every tree is unique, but must be made uniform to create the fence. Despite the uniformity, no two pieces are exactly alike. When completed, the materials are bundled, loaded, and shipped to their destination, hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away.
Looking at the hard work put into each section, I consider the meticulous process of building a fence. The untouched ground is almost like digging into cement. Each hole is dug by hand using a post hole digger, excavating the dirt one scoop at a time. The tedious process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour per hole. Posts are set two-feet-deep, then three rails are inserted on either side of the post into pre-drilled notches. A level eye ensures each rail is straight. This rhythm is repeated section by section.
Upon completion, the fence will serve as a layer of protection while continuing to showcase the surrounding beauty. This design allows for someone to slip through the rails while keeping a safeguard in place. Animals such as rabbits and birds go wherever they wish with ease while larger animals, like deer, can only roam in an open area. Fences, similar to walls and other barriers, are put in place to offer security and establish a boundary. They afford us the flexibility to keep things out and be selective of what comes in.
Thinking about this physical fence, I wonder what kind of barriers I construct in my own life. There are some areas I don’t want to be vulnerable in or allow others inside. It feels as if I am protecting myself from the possibility of being hurt or injured. With these safeguards in place, I limit the experiences I allow myself.
There is a fine line between completely closing myself off and having no protection. I’m learning that in order to allow for growth and development, it’s ok for my fence to come down, or a gate to open. Giving myself the freedom to transform, adjust, and modify my processes, is okay.
Over the last 15 months I have slowly allowed my soon to be husband into that sacred inner circle. It takes effort each day from both of us to loosen the reins and let the other one in. Taking into account our past hurts and struggles, we are learning to open that gate and widen the circle. Each day we must choose how we want to love one another and decide how we can be trustworthy partners. For both of us, no one else is allowed into that inner circle because of the level of openness and commitment needed.
Both the physical and figurative fences around me create space for freedom and possibility. Growth, while still maintaining boundaries, creates the opportunity to try new things and allow others to know me better. This widens my inner circle and creates more vulnerability.