Friday, March 17, 2017

Reflections on Dividing Walls

One of the texts for today is Ephesians 2: 11-22 which contains this verse:

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us

There are so many walls, aren't there?  We divide ourselves by class, race, age, income, education, neighborhood, country, politcal party, rreligion, gender.  There are just so many walls. The walls are erected for safety and comfort and they always make sense at the time.  Right now as the President is presenting his new budget, safety is primary for him as he has increased spending in defense and decreased it in so many other important ways.  But I digress.

Yesterday morning I woke with a wall between me and Chuck and it took time and prayer and honest reflection and conversation to take it down and find our normal peace with each other.  Walls spring up  (or are slowly built) all the time but that is not what God wants for any of us.  Walls lead to misunderstandings and alienation and isolation at the very least.

As I pondered this morning I remembered the Lord's prayer and these line "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."  And realizing that the kingdom life is without walls between us - and if wall are built often for safety - it means that the kingdom life is one of a willingness to be vulnerable.  And who wants to be vulnerable?

I just bought a new book by Richard Rohr. Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of St. Francis of Assisi  and was stopped by this quote in the introduction:
"Francis must have known, at least intuitively, there is only one enduring spiritual insight and everything else follows from it:
The visible world is an active doorway to the invisible world, and the invisible world is much larger than the visible"

There is this continual pull from the invisible world - the world of God's spirit of love - to let go and disarm and love.  And trust God.  My prayer for today is that I might recognize the ways I am erecting and hiding behind walls.  And do what I can to dismantle them and live in peace with everyone.

Here is the way that Eugene Peterson translates the end of this passage:

That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles.
This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders.
You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home.
He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building.
He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation.
Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together.
We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.


This poem by Robert Frost seems fitting for today:

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,

But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather

He said it for himself. I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father's saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."

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