January 12, 2012

Good Fences

"He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? 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.'" 
- Robert Frost's "The Mending Wall"

I find boundaries difficult.  Here there are no cows.  What am I walling in or walling out?

I want to be close to people.  I long to connect.  I used to think that the only way to do that was not to build a wall.

Maybe you wanted a wall between us, cows or no.  I could not imagine what your reason could possibly be. 

As far as I was concerned, there was no good reason.  So I was like to give offence.  I'd get too close.  In your space.

If you had a wall, I'd try to tear it down, stone by stone, board by board, so I could get in.  Even if you didn't want me in.  Something there is that doesn't love a wall,/That wants it down.  I wanted it down, no matter the cost.

And cost it did.  Never mind your feelings.  Never mind mine.  What's the difference?

Isaiah chapter five begins:

"Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste..." (vv 1-6a)

"I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down."  The Lord surrounded his beloved vineyard with a wall.  To protect it.  Without the wall, the vineyard was defenseless.  It became a waste.

That's what happens to me -- and to you -- when we don't have walls.  One of us gets trampled.  My feelings or yours.  Your needs or mine.  My body or yours.

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