My backyard plank fence abuts those of my neighbors and removing it would disrupt the roaming space of their toddlers and pets. Constructed by a previous owner, it has weathered violent storms, scorching summers, and wet winters and shows no signs of deterioration.

 

Through the lens of archeologists exploring fences, we note this centuries-old practice of enclosing space. At the Cahokia Mounds located in Collinsville, Illinois, there is evidence of the remains of a two-mile long, twelve-foot high fence surrounding the Stockade, built from 1150 to 1250 AD. Its intent was to exclude the burgeoning peasants from the elite and to fortify its wealth from marauders.

 

Closer to our time, we find another approach to fences as found in the 1914 blank verse poem, “Mending Wall,” by The American poet, Robert Frost–his musings on the fence demarcating his property from his neighbor in Derry, New Hampshire. It questioned the dogmatic acceptance of traditions and our instinctual need to be on guard from adversaries, real or imagined. Frost even incorporated the seventeenth century quote listed in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotes, “Good neighbors make good fences.”

 

However, in another place in the poem, Frost wrote, “Something there is that does not love a wall/That wants it down…”

 

That’s the part of the poem that intrigues me. What is that “Something?” Might it be the oceanic mystery of God’s love seeking entrance into our lives? Against which we construct fences? No matter, they are all permeable. Indeed, the “Something” finds its way!

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