I spent three mornings this week repairing a long stretch of fence on my property. With the evenings ending earlier than my husband can come home from work and with the dogs breaking out into the neighboring horse pasture, the task needed to be completed as quickly as possible. That meant the job was up to me.
Alone, I sourced scrap material from around the barn. Alone, I clipped, rolled, and dragged the fencing from one end of the 2-ish acres to the other end. Alone, I stood it up and held it in position as I meticulously pieced new and old together with metal fence clips. Alone, I troubleshooted and problem solved the less-than-straightforward holes and things. Alone, I used knees, boots, and elbows to hold things into place so I could weave wire through barbs and weathered prongs. For a total of approximately 7 hours, I mended as much as I could in 1-2 hour intervals in below freezing weather, stopping only because — on top of this chore — I had the ongoing work of stay-at-home motherhood with four children under the age of 8.
Every morning I was out there, I kept quiet, despite the failures and re-repairs. Every morning I was out there, the cold would make my eyes water and the ground I knelt in smelled like sheep shit. Every morning I was out there, I was a little closer to my end goal. Every morning I was out there, I looked up at the mountains and felt entirely at peace.
As unremarkable as that may be to you, this was a meaningful reawakening for me.
I was raised out in the country and have been a country girl at heart all of my life. The responsibilities of adulthood and parenthood have allowed me to stress, to ball myself up into a wad of anxiety more times than I can count. Recently the outside world has presented more threats and stressors, more lack and despair, and I have felt small and powerless.
While I was out there, however, doing country things, I felt strong and capable. I felt like the world was simpler. And I remembered some very important truths.
I remembered that I can quiet myself and my mind in the face of challenges. I remembered that being uncomfortable does not mean defeat. That I can improve the state of things around me. Most importantly, I remembered that the same God Who created those powerful, terrible, breathtaking mountains that tower above me, is the same God Who created me. That same GodWho directs the rivers and the winds, preserves my path and gives me guidance.
Had I put headphones in, listened to a podcast, blasted my thoughts with politics or information or topics outside of the task at hand — would I have remembered all of these things? When we are presented with an opportunity for simplicity and stillness, don’t we stuff it full of ads, screens, products, and noise? The device that listens, watches, and tracks — bringing us trouble then conveniently providing the savior — follows us into every room, every space we occupy. We invite people we can’t touch to pour into our cups, we drink their indigestible thoughts, then spend way too long and too much effort trying to detoxify from it all. The millions of voices and distractions, undeservingly and ceaselessly vying for our attention, beg us to forget. We are bought and sold on the premise that life is complicated, our problems are complicated, nothing can be helped and we are rightfully overwhelmed.
But if we take the time to mend the fence…
When we remove the leech from our veins, the veil from our eyes, the plugs from our ears, we can remember that the world can be simpler. When the world is simpler, the truths become more glaring, and the peace more profound.
And I guess I just wanted to share that lesson with you, in case you’re like me and you needed a little reminder.