I’ve written about faith and life, home, friends and family in this column for a generation now. Through these five hundred words a week, loyal readers have watched my family (and pets) change and grow.
Our daughter has been and done many remarkable things over those years. God arranged that all those skills and gifts would be useful in the most challenging calling on her life thus far: wife to one and mother to six, ages three to fourteen.
Amanda writes about her family sometimes on Facebook. Last week she posted something I found lovely and relevant on many levels. She gave me her blessing to share it:
“I had a paradigm shift today. Driving to church we passed a farm that frequently has cattle out. Like always, we slowed down in anticipation there would be one or more close to, or on, the road. Sure enough, two were on the road.
“My usual thought is something along the lines of, “That farmer really should fix his fence. One of these days he’ll lose some cows! He must be crazy busy that such an obvious thing can’t be fixed.” But this morning a different thought came to me.
“How lucky this busy farmer is that his neighbours care enough to always be careful when driving past. Maybe he’s grateful we’re all so cautious.
“We arrived at church, and once again I spent the morning just attempting to corral my wild child. Not for one moment can I let my guard down at church. He is constantly running, squirming, making noise, screaming in fear that I will leave... This morning I even had the thought cross my mind, “Have I forgotten how to parent? Why do I have so little control over my child?”
“I stayed by his side all morning, even digging out my last remaining ring sling to give him some comfort. Because church is one place I don’t want stress and anxiety to overcome Ezra, I’m willing to suffer my own stress and anxiety to lower his.
“I’m mending this fence. And each week, Ezra breaks it down again. Each week, I try another strategy to fix it.
“And my “neighbours” at church? They slow down for Ezra. They step aside when he comes barreling past. They give gentle smiles instead of stern glances. They let me sit in on his Sunday School and children’s church in an attempt to get him comfortable.
“On the way home we drove past the farm again. The cattle from this morning were back in, and two different ones were out. In that moment, my understanding shifted. I can identify with this.
“We do our best, we try to repair, we build new. And we are grateful for understanding neighbours.”
Good words, daughter, and true. Whether children or cattle, pets or emotions — even memories — they all jump fences sometimes, making them (and us) vulnerable to others. When that happens, I pray we will all have — and be — good neighbours.