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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

    Building Fences

    Reverend Susan Bantz
    The Rev. Susan Bantz serves as Chaplain at Lutheran Living Senior Campus. This is her second time living in Muscatine, where she shares a home with her two Chinese Crested dogs, Affie and Reggie, and tries to find time to read after all the chores are done.

    Muscatine Living

    I’ve been busy these past couple of weeks doing something that is way out of my wheelhouse—building a fence. To say that this is an unusual occupation for me is a massive understatement; generally speaking, if it makes me sweat, I am completely disinterested in doing it! But my brother needed help with this, so I corralled a couple of friends with construction skills and we all trouped to his house for the build.

    When you embark on a project like this, it always helps to have a plan. We had gone down about a month earlier to get the lay of the land (which is hilly and rocky) and determine how many feet of fencing we would need, how many panels and posts, the tools we would need, and how much the whole thing would cost. Then it was a matter of timing—when could we all get together to actually do the work and could we get the necessary equipment rented. We figured out all those logistics and thought we were good to go

    But of course, such projects NEVER work out the way you expect them to. Who could have guessed that June would be 90 degrees plus with 70% humidity? Who expected the fury of a thunderstorm that dropped that temp 20 degrees but soaked us to the skin and threatened the bags of concrete we’d just purchased? Could we have planned for the auger’s pull string to break, necessitating finding another piece of equipment in another town? Who’d have thought we would encounter thorn bushes, poison ivy, concrete foundations, splinters, and fire ant colonies? None of these were things we could have remotely planned for.

    Yet, surprisingly, this whole venture has been a really good experience. Once I accepted that I just going to get hot and dirty, I just let that go. When the storm hit, we ran for the porch to spend an hour singing. We figured out how to jerry-rig the auger so we could at least get through that day. The various flora and fauna became things to joke about. Problems were solved creatively.

    In other words, building this fence has been a lot like life. We plan and things go awry. We work, but sometimes we have to back up and try again. Things break; sometimes we can fix them, but sometimes we can’t. Storms delay us and all we can do is wait for them to pass by. Through it all, we sweat and get dirty, clean up and rest, then get up the next day to do it again. Eventually, we come to the end our lives and look back, hoping to see a fence that might not be perfect, but does its job of keeping those we love safe and protected. Along the way, we find things that make us laugh and dance and love. And that’s the kind of building that’s worth every splinter.

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