Wednesday, September 7, 2022 by Donnie Stevens
Years ago, while visiting my father-in-law in the beautiful, southwest Virginia mountains, I ventured out with him early one Fall morning to help mend his fencing around one of his pastures. We walked around the field looking for collapsed fencing to replace posts or rails. After a couple hours, I caught on to the trade and observed how soon it would be before other sections would need to be mended and wondered why not replace it all at the same time? He caught on to my curiosity and what he said to me has stuck in my mind ever since.
He removed his hat, wiped his brow, then spoke from many decades of experienced cattle farming. “Son, do you know the difference between an older man mending a fence verse you younger men?” Of course, I didn’t, so I let him explain. “Older men mend fences and younger men build new fences.”
His words and lesson have stuck with me over many years and the meaning has become clearer as I aged. When young, we’re out there discovering new horizons, seeking new opportunities, and building new relationships. Those endeavors, unknowingly allow us to build a support group with many people along the way. Some our family, others-acquaintances, and some lifelong friendships. They may include a closer relationship with our siblings, a dentist, doctor, teacher, group leader, patrol officer, bus driver, postal employee, neighbors, and the list goes on. All are a part of the relationship or invisible fence we place around our family over many years to protect and provide for our needs. And anytime something in our life goes aria, we’re quick to jump out there to mend that fence. A short story on my website, He Ain’t Heavy, is a prime example.
As we grow older, we’re not out there gallivanting around the universe or broadening our horizons and experiences as much or relocating ever few years to chase of career opportunities. Because our priorities change as we age, it becomes more about having our own space, security, and reaping the rewards from many years of labor. Along with it, we yearn for peace of mind, calm, composure, serenity, and tranquility. Something we can only achieve if we build our foundation or fence around our pastures or lives solidly along the way. (Searching For Peace), a Billy Graham Devotional reflects this message.
As we age, we’re certain to find ourselves out there on a morning or two, mending a post or rail on a fence. Maybe because we’ve let a friendship sour, or ignored a family sibling or elder too long, or something about our health or personal life has frazzled. I’m betting right now there is something or some relationship crossing your mind that needs your attention. It is for me. Got to run. I’ve got some fencing to mend today.