The Great Fence Man

I am counting days, marking off my mental calendar, until the fence man appears. The invisible line that protects our beasts is no longer enough for both of them. Our Lab, my beast, respects the boundary. He hears the warning chirp emitted from his collar as he nears the edges and he retreats to safety. He doesn’t cross. The Golden, Chef’s rotten horrible spoiled bully who refuses to share any bones, he has discovered that a bit of a shock is worth the adventure of touring the neighbor’s yard. He runs freely across and mocks my poor beast. He chases my cats who used to be able to cross the invisible line and feel safe. He just has no concern for the established boundaries and now we have to put up a fence, a real fence, a big jail around our yard to keep everyone in and safe and I can’t wait for the fence man to get here. We could have gotten one of those outdoor kennel set-ups, much less expensive. Yet the boundaries on those for our big beasts would have been cruel. They have long legs built for running, they have instincts to explore, they want to bring balls back for us to throw again. Well, my beast does, Chef’s Golden prefers to collect them all in his mouth because he doesn’t share and is horrible. Still, boundaries too close leave none of us satisfied.

These beasts remind me that we all make decisions to either stay within the lines or push free and that consequences are sure to follow. Not that everyone is facing jail time for breaking out, but I can’t decide which of my beasts is the true lesson. I really want it to be mine, who runs to the door to alert me that his sibling has once again chosen a path that could lead to trouble for all. He is a rule follower for sure. I want the lesson to be about following God’s plans for us and respecting the boundaries, even ones that are harder to see like the ones our loved ones set out for us. But then I see our Golden running so freely with a smile on his face, which is true for Goldens most of the time anyway so I have to take that in to account, but still, he just looks so happy. Unencumbered by the restrictions placed on him, new rocks and trees to smell, exciting new places to pee, what joy! Accepting that a bit of pain may be necessary to find our true spirit, is that the lesson God holds our for me here? Where is the fence man? If only I had more time to consider this all without jumping up and down every few minutes to check on beasts.

I really wonder if maybe my actual lesson isn’t the anticipation of freedom that I imagine at the surrendering of theirs. That hasn’t been lost on me. Much like the times I have used a child’s time-out to actually go to the bathroom alone and I always feel freer when Plum is finally asleep in bed, I am a mother hen who only feels truly able to do as I please when I know exactly where all my baby chicks are. Knowing that I can no longer just let the beasts outside without supervision means I have no rest, no down time until they are safely back in. With the nice weather coming, they don’t want to be in. In out, up down, we are in constant motion that leaves us all tired but not spent. No one is satisfied with the current arrangement, I call them back in too soon for their wandering spirits, I keep them closer to try to manage any runaways. They fuss to go out when a squirrel braves the porch, taunts from the other side of the door. They need to run and play. I need space from them. We need a fence. Did I mention I can’t wait for the fence man to appear? Balancing their need to run and explore the world and my desire to keep them safe is a constant struggle. But deeper than that, I realize my heart is never fully at rest until I know my other baby chicks are safe as well.

I have been fenced in or out, depending on perspective. Without knowledge that they are running freely, exploring the world within the bounds of God’s fences, I just worry. I fret and call for them in my dreams. If only I knew they were respecting boundaries, were establishing safe ones for themselves, couldn’t I just rest? I am anticipating some pushback from our beasts when they realize the front yard is no longer accessible to them. I imagine sitting up there in peace with coffee and my laptop in the early mornings while they roam the back yard in search of squirrels and sticks. More likely they will bark and demand that I join them. My fence may not bring all that I hope, it will surely require a different kind of mowing and weed whacking and the front door will need more attention so we don’t have escapees. As I spoke with the fence man, we talked about where to put the gates. Ah, yes gates. We have to have access beyond the back door, other ways to access the jail, the safety zone. I wonder if my Stella has considered putting in a gate. Not an all access opening, one that could still have a lock, but an way into her fenced off heart. An invitation to see that she runs freely, that she is secure. If only I knew that Arrow was respecting the safety of his fences, my God wouldn’t I rest? I don’t need to run freely about their yards, sniff their rocks, only peer over the fence sometimes to catch of a glimpse of their smiling faces as they explore their worlds still sheltered from harm.

When the fence is erected, I will plant flowers along the edges, much more flowers around the front yard that won’t get trampled by beasts. Knowing my landscaping is inaccessible from large paws that seek to dig and trample and hide bones and make mud piles, I can garden in peace. My fence can be decorated with joy colors to show it is only for safety, not to keep others out but to ensure that those who need to run can do so without worry of passing cars. Maybe my children have decorated their hearts as well, new joys that sprout up without the worry that I will trample it all with my mothering and busting through the invisible fences. I pray that one day the Great Fence Man will appear to them and show them the wonder of gates. Until then, we are learning more and more about our own need for safe boundaries and the call to run freely. We are learning to balance both as we await the fence man. We are remembering that sometimes we erect a fence that is just too small, we need God’s help in expanding our boundaries to include room to move more safely, we need some help installing those gates. I also know that lessons are sometimes muddled when all I want is some peace and quiet. Soon, soon the fence man will appear.

“Then the gates of his heart were flung open, and his joy flew far over the sea. And he closed his eyes and prayed in the silences of his soul.”― Kahlil GibranThe Prophet

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