The signs are gone and the trees are much larger now. The line of trees makes its own barricade – a wall of its own. I drive by this place almost every day, and I still wonder about that wall of trees.
How I missed those signs those first few days is beyond me. Maybe they just hadn’t been there before. But you can’t miss ’em now. There are fourteen of them, planted firmly between each flowering pear tree along the driveway. Facing the neighbor, each sign firmly states: Posted: No Trespassing (and etc.)
It’s a pretty place, this road, especially in the spring. But there’s gonna be a damper this year, because where the trees used to draw a line down a center between two driveways, there’s a fence being built. Those No Trespassing signs are coming down as the larger barricade goes up.
Not just any barricade, mind you. A fence that appears to say: keep out. A fence that appears to be widening a gulf started some time ago. Mind you, I don’t know a thing about the folks who live in the houses or what’s been happening there. All I know is what I see from the middle of the road. I see a wall that says, “Keep out!”
I laughed the first time I drove by and saw those signs. How ridiculous, I thought as I wheeled my mini-van around the curve up ahead. Did they really put a No Trespassing sign between all the trees? I asked myself. Yep. Someone really did. Then I wasn’t laughing any more.
There! Take that! I imagine someone said as he drove that first stake into the ground. And that! And that! I imagine each stake driven in was done with more emphasis than the last one. [At least, if I was putting in those stakes, that’s how I would do it.]
A few days later, there was more. This time, the beginning of a fence could be seen. Starting toward the back of the property, the fence was going up where the signs came down. Then it rained, so the fence is still half-built.
Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if the differences could be cleared up before the rest of the fence gets built? And I found myself wondering what the neighboring parties would say if I stopped in and asked them to explain the signs. ‘Wonder what they’d tell me?
But really, I ask myself. Are the fence builders any different from the rest of us and the walls we build? Relationships are the hardest thing about life. We have our own ways of keeping people out, of declaring our lives to be a No Trespassing Zone. Rather than sharing sugar and spices or swapping newspapers, we build walls and hide behind our forts. They’re not visible, but they’re there, all right. In time, the evidence is there as fractured relationships aren’t restored, as a once-tiny trickle becomes a gulf seemingly too large a span for a bridge.
The cost of a wall
I find myself wondering: what does it take to get a person to the place he puts up No Trespassing signs and then builds a fence to prove it? What would it take to tear down the fence, remove the No Trespassing signs, and forge a path? What would it take to bridge one heart to another?