Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?
I remember as a small child receiving a book entitled "Little Book of Proverbs" as a gift from my Granny. There was one proverb in particular that stood out for me and I pondered on it for many years of my life, "Good fences make good neighbors." As a 10 year old, I really could not make sense of this ambiguous metaphor that seemed to be suggesting both fencing someone in and fencing someone out. I could sense the inherent tension in this little saying even at a young age. It seemed to be advising me to set boundaries while at the same time to be gracious and welcoming without offering any practical way of how to go about this.
Over the years, I have reexamined the value of this piece of wisdom. At times I have rejected it completely, concluding it had no prudence for my life. Other times, I have found it useful in spite of its contradictory nature.
Today, I understand this saying as simply a strategy for dealing with life and the emotional ramifications of living in community with human kind. Fences come and go. Walls are built and torn down. At times, they are a metaphor for respect, responsibility and maturity. Other times, they are illusionary barriers to ward off fear and vulnerability.
It should be an interesting week exploring fences...both internal and external.