Walls come in various shapes, sizes and types. And even though creatures such as termites and bees also use them in making their hives, walls have become a defining element for humankind.

Great WAll of China
Great Wall of China, from Pixabay

Archaeologists get all excited when they find walls at a dig. Why? Because they indicate an element of permanence. Instead of roaming with the game and seasons, someone settled there, or at least had something they wanted to protect. So walls are a defacto representation of civilization.

We use walls for many things: protection from the elements; protection from creatures and people that would harm us; containment of dangerous things, like in a zoo or a prison. Sometimes they are simple dividers between types of grain for sale. Or they may be there to divide families, people and ideologies, like the Berlin Wall during the cold war.

There’s been a lot of talk about walls, lately. The proposed Border Wall between the U.S. and Mexico, for one. Or the difference between the Left and the Right. How about the one between the Haves and the Have Nots? Us versus Them.

The biggest wall, perhaps, is the one between who we are and the World.

Perhaps you have thought to yourself, “If only they knew how I really felt. If only they knew what I was really like. But I don’t dare, or they won’t like me.” Or perhaps even, “I’ve shown a certain face to the world for so long that I don’t even know who I am or what I want.”

Those are, perhaps, the most important walls of all, and the most dangerous.

It is certainly important to have boundaries between ourselves and others. Who wants to bare their soul, only to have it trampled under ridicule or belittled? Nor should it be so porous that any charlatan can come by and suck your soul dry.

But if the wall is so thick and vast that nothing can come through it, not only are you protected from pain and strife, but pleasure and joy are left outside as well. To risk being happy, you have to risk being unhappy. You have to risk encountering an enemy to find a friend.

stone walls
Field stone fences, from Pixabay

Robert Frost put it this way in The Mending Wall:

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.

And if there is a wall between you and your self, you have no foundation for the other wall built to protect you from the world. It’s a sham easily undermined by the tides of life. Like Frost, ask yourself, “What am I walling in or walling out?”

Your strength to be yourself comes from the journey of learning to know yourself. That wall must come down. Only as you undertake that journey can you build a proper wall between you and the world, one that can protect you from the tempest while letting you hear the whisper of grace that says, “You are precious. You are loved.”

And when you understand you are loved, you can reach out in strength to love others.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.


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