“The same wind that uproots trees makes the grasses shine.” #rumi
In October of last year during a massive storm, three trees came down in the paddock where we keep the horses. It was a true mess. The kind that you start on and then wait over a year to finally finish. The trees took out one of our fence lines, replacing it with a tangle of limbs. Last weekend Ben and I went out to help finally help finish the project. We were on fence repair while our friend worked on chainsawing the remains of the tree. I’ve never built a fence from scratch before, nor repaired a fence to this extent. So with a hammer, a box of nails, some lumber, and an intention to build a fence, we got to work. I am a constant student of life and relationships, and I couldn’t help but notice how similar building the fence was to working on a marriage.
Here are my observations:
It takes two in order to repair a fence. One has to hold the lumber in place, and the other has to secure it with a nail and hammer. Both parts are very different and equally valuable for the end result. Two people can work at the relationship in a very different way, often those differences are necessary and can be incredibly beneficial for the end goal. Try to avoid judging different as wrong.
Before we could build the fence, we had to clear away the debris. If there are sticks and limbs that are going to trip you up, it’s helpful to clear the pathway before starting the process. Work tends to be more streamlined when you have physical space and aren’t cramped.
It’s satisfying to work together on achievable goals, but not all goals are accomplished in one day. This was a 6 weekend long project. It took a lot of work to get around to actually building the fence. The preliminary work is so necessary. Celebrate the steps that lead to the final goal.
When overwhelmed, it can be helpful to pick a spot and just start somewhere. At first the project might feel insurmountable. It took moving one branch at a time over the course of a year to get to where we could build the fence. It’s a journey. Treat it like one.
Ask for help. We had to turn to our friend Haywood and ask for advice often. He would offer some gentle ideas for the fence but never judgement. Ultimately, he empowered us to figure it out on our own.
Sometimes you have to rip out the old. There were some boards that had completely rotted and no longer could be used. We had to tear those out in order to bolster the fence. When you realize a coping tool isn’t working any more, sometimes it just has to go in order to make space for the new, stronger tool. Even if it looks mismatched, in the end it’s stronger.
Fences can keep things in and keep things out. Decide your boundaries and what you want to keep, and let the fence hold everything else out.
If you’re looking to get out of a space of stagnation, build a fence!