by Christine Sine
A few weeks ago, the Guardian published the following article: Tear Down these Walls or Get Used to A World of Fear, Separation and Division which made me feel that our challenge to break down walls during Lent was indeed a timely topic. Evidently “the EU/Schengen area is now surrounded or crisscrossed by 19 border or separation fences totalling 2,048km in length, up from 315km in 2014. Similar trends are discernible worldwide.” Walls that split nations in half, or that surround nations to keep out refugees and displaced people are more common than ever. In fact Wikipedia lists 59 such walls throughout the world, most of them designed to curb the movement of refugees and illegal immigrants. .
Walls are not new. The Roman Empire built several including Hadrian’s wall in Britain, designed to keep the warlike Scots out of Roman occupied territory and the Great Wall of China built to keep out the nomadic tribes of Mongolia. What is concerning however is that most of today’s walls have been built in the last 20 years. We live in a very sobering world of division and isolation. As the article in the Guardian says:
These barriers are supposed to fend off military and terrorist threats. But what they mostly do is create obstacles to peace. Often they increase frictions. At best, they freeze enmity in place.
Walls, whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual often create barriers to peace. They highlight that people who are different from us be it because of race, ethnicity, gender orientation or beliefs are not welcome and maybe more importantly their views and ideas are not welcome and are seen to have lesser value than our own. In many cases that are not regarded as having any value at all.
A few weeks ago, in the lead up to Lent, I wrote a post What If We Gave Up Walls for Lent, in which I talked about some of what I see as the keys to creating peace rather than animosity. First we need to really listen to what others are saying. So often we are more interested in voicing our own opinions than in listening, and what others say hardly registers in our consciousness.
If there is one practice that should be established and reinforced during Lent, it is that of listening. Listening with our ears and our hearts. Listening with a willingness to be changed by what we hear and with a desire to see life differently than we have in the past.
What if I rethink who I am not in terms of what Christ has done for me, but in terms of what Christ wants to do through me for others?
What if I read life:
through the lens of laughter and fun?
through the filter of joy and peace?
through the framework of gratitude and thankfulness?
I am starting to think beyond Lent and even beyond Easter, and as I think about breaking down walls in the coming season there are other questions that lodge in my mind.
As the seasons change what do I need to let go of in order to fully enter the richness of this new season?
As I look at our world, what language do I need to change to become a better steward and carer for those who look and think differently from me ?
As I think about my faith what perceptions and understandings need to change in order embrace that which I normally exclude?
And with all these questions revolving in my mind it is not surprising that my initial thoughts have turned to poetry, that fertile ground of exploration and expression for me.
Read life differently,
Read with the desire to break down walls.
Read with love and not with hate,
with compassion and not with judgment,
with generosity and not with scarcity.
See your cup,
not half full,
not half empty,
but overflowing with goodness and light and life.
Read life differently.
Look for the wonder of uniqueness,
not the exclusion of sameness.
Embrace don’t reject,
Forgive don’t condemn,
Seek the Son of God.
Work diligently to know
he who is the way, the truth, the life.
Follow his footsteps
into the way that leads to eternal life
(c) Christine Sine
In the last few days of his life, Jesus moved from garden to garden from suffering to resurrection.
Join Christine Sine for a Lent retreat that reflects on this journey and prepares for the challenging week that follows Palm Sunday.