About Me, Brokenhearted Theology, California, Ramblings, Relational


As I walked through our neighborhood last night, I was struck by the vast amount of fences.  More high fences than low fences.  More steel fences than picket fences.  Fences, I surmise, designed more to keep things out rather than to keep things in.

When were these fences put up?  After the riots in the early 90s, or much earlier than that?  Likely sometime after my neighborhood transitioned from a semi-wealthy suburban university neighborhood to a highly diverse, low-income urban neighborhood.  Did they all go up at once, or was it a slow entrance of these metallic barriers?

I could not help but wonder what my street would feel like if all the fences were taken down.  Our house is one of the few without a metal fence.  We do, however, have a small waist-high wooden picket fence.  True to the rest of our neighborhood, the front gate had been boarded shut to (in)effectively seal off our tiny front yard from the sidewalk.  Some months after we moved in, we ripped out the boards and opened the gates.

Now I want to rip down the fence entirely.  It serves no good purpose.

Let the dogs come in.  Let the kids run through. Let our street look like a place to live rather than a place to hide.

Maybe we can be neighbors instead of strangers.


One thought on “Fences

  1. Krissy says:

    In response I leave you a poem: “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost.

    Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
    And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
    And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
    The work of hunters is another thing:
    I have come after them and made repair
    Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
    But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
    To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
    No one has seen them made or heard them made,
    But at spring mending-time we find them there.
    I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
    And on a day we meet to walk the line
    And set the wall between us once again.
    We keep the wall between us as we go.
    To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
    And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
    We have to use a spell to make them balance:
    ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
    We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
    Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
    One on a side. It comes to little more:
    There where it is we do not need the wall:
    He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
    My apple trees will never get across
    And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
    He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
    Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
    If I could put a notion in his head:
    ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
    Where there are cows?
    But here there are no cows.
    Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out,
    And to whom I was like to give offence.
    Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
    But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
    He said it for himself. I see him there
    Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
    In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
    He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
    Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
    He will not go behind his father’s saying,
    And he likes having thought of it so well
    He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”


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