St. Helen’s Daily Lenten Devotional
Just as I am, thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down.
Now to be thine, yea thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I Am Text: Charlotte Elliott, Music: William Batchelder Bradbury #615 Common Praise
Also translated in Cree and Inuktitut
In that detailed compendium of commandments, laws and ‘bylaws, rules and regulations’ that is the Book of Deuteronomy we read well-known advice: “You shall not remove your neighbor’s boundary marker, set up by former generations, on the property that will be allotted to you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 19:14 And again, two neighbors are making repairs to a stone wall between their properties. They disagree with the value of, or need for, the wall but resolve that “Good fences make good neighbors”. (Robert Frost, in his poem, Mending Wall, 1916)
Although not all cultures hold the same attitude around property ‘ownership’, it is probably true, at least in this era, that fences are a good idea, in some circumstances. If the aim is to protect livestock, or people, from injury, to provide a safe ‘pen’, then it makes sense to have a barrier that keeps an area secure, either from unintentional trespassers or from those up to mischief or worse.
But what if the fence is not made of construction materials? What if the fence is one we have built to keep ourselves isolated, to keep from feeling, or from some needed action. It is a reality that there are times when we have to cut people out of our lives, or simply keep contact to a minimum. It may be a sad commentary but it’s better, healthier, to be sad than to be poisoned by toxic behavior, negative criticism, bullying or disrespect. On the other hand, psychological fences we build for our own protection might imprison us and keep us from living a life of promise. Perhaps we have also tried to build barriers between ourselves and God. We may have been hurt, or disappointed or disillusioned and remain angry at God for the same. Realizing that the wall is of our making may be the first step to freeing ourselves. Beginning to take down that wall, piece by piece, may be the next. Piece by piece.