This summer we cleared a stand of red pines from our farm. The pines were planted in the 1970’s in a reforesting effort that swept across the state of Vermont, leaving patches of tall trees across the hillsides. Our trees had been neglected through the years. They were spindly, and tall. On several occassions, we had talked with foresters about them, getting the same response each time, “these trees are really not worth anything.” So we cut them down to make room for new pasture and new growth within our flock.
The dogs and I worked during the waning days of autumn to pull old barb wire from the edge of our newly cleared area. The barb wire, a last remembrance of open farm land, tells of past times when the farmers raised cattle in the fields. Now, the wire lays, entangling trees, distorting them and causing a hazard to both man and beast.
It took about 2 weeks for me to get all of the wire cut from the trees and pulled from under the earth where it had been buried for ages. The dogs and I would go out every afternoon with our snipping tool and work for an hour or more. It felt good to be ridding us of the constant worry that a dog or sheep would get trapped within the snare of sharp pointed barbs.
Two weeks is a long time to work on a project. It gave me much time to think and ponder, making connections between the work of my hands and life around me. The past few days, I have concluded…
barb wire is much like words, the words we speak to one another.
Words can connect us, unify us, strengthen us, and uplift us…
or they can distort us, pierce us, and change us forever.
Words, once spoken, can never be taken back. Hurtful words bury deep within us, and though we try to heal our wounds, there is always a scar left behind.
Even when the speaker takes back his hurtful phrases, the damage is left behind. Sometimes there are little sharp points that poke out and jab those around us from time to time, and sometimes, the scars are deep and unsightly.
In the coming year, I hope to continue to can clean out the rolls of old wire from our farm and my heart and focus on regrowth.