As a child, I spent summers in Tennessee visiting my grandmother and other family. My sister, cousins, and I loved to cross the country road and play in a slow-moving creek. In order to get to the creek, we had to slide beneath a barbed wire fence. One of us would gingerly hold the fence up while the others crawled beneath it. Those on the other side would then repeat the process for the last person.
Crawling under a barbed wire fence is not for the squeamish. The barbs could and did tear clothing and, sometimes, flesh. Squirming under the fence involved getting up close and personal with the rich Tennessee mud and the occasional cow pie.
I look back on those days and smile, thinking of my younger, intrepid self. Navigating barbed wire fences is not unlike navigating the prickly thorns of relationships. Family and friends, church members and business associates, we all have to find our way through the maze of understanding and accepting each other.
Sometimes we are the ones left behind to hold the fence for another. At other times, we are first in line and, later, take our turn to lift the fence for the last person in line. Either way, we must do our share of the lifting. Patience and loyalty, love and unselfishness are required, with a healthy dose of humor thrown in for good measure. When we fall short, we try again.
So, for today, I am grateful for memories of barbed wire fences and the lessons they taught me.