by Joyce Trevolt, West District Associate Lay Leader
This is one of my favorite pictures. It hangs in my bathroom, so I look at it every day. I took it on a trip to Jerome, AZ. The chair and roses on the top reminded me of my youth growing up in Virginia. My grandparents had lawn chairs like this one. Plus, my grandmother grew roses. Lots of roses. She had a beautiful rose garden. It was a lovely place to sit and smell the roses
But if you look closely at the bottom picture, you will see a fence. My grandparent’s rose garden had a fence around it as well. The big question: Is the fence there to keep people/animals/things inside the fence or to keep them out?
There are days when I want to keep everyone out. I want the fence to be high and closed in. I want to be alone with my thoughts, to just enjoy the beauty. I don’t want anyone to get too close. I might have to share.
Other days, I want out. I feel stifled. The fence is too tall, too restrictive. I want to be free. To create. To share with the world.
I build my fence daily. Don’t you?
A fence is a structure that encloses an area, typically outdoors, and is usually constructed from posts that are connected by boards, wire, rails, or netting.
The fence in this picture was probably meant to keep someone in. A child, elderly person, animals. We don’t know. We do know that we build fences of all kinds around our lives. Most of the time we call them walls, but a fence differs from a wall in not having a solid foundation along its whole length. A fence can be taken down or moved.
Fences are important. They separate property or give us boundaries. Fences keep things in specific areas or keeps things out of areas. Fences can be tall, short, wooden, wire, electric, invisible. Fences are a barrier.
Even though a fence does not have a solid foundation, we sometimes associate it with building a wall. In The Spirit and Art of Conflict Transformation: Creating a Culture of JustPeace, Thomas Porter writes: “We often create walls we then fight to maintain or walls we hide behind,…As Robert Frost says, ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” We know God does not like walls. Jesus died to breakdown the dividing walls of hostility (Eph. 2:14). Walls are a physical confession of sin. Walls do not make good neighbors. We need to ask ourselves what we are walling in and walling out. We also need to remember the most powerful walls are invisible, in our minds.”
And, Dudley Nichols said: “Fear is the highest fence.”
If fear is our highest fence, how high is your fence?
How high does it have to be to keep you safe?
What are you afraid of?
What in your life is keeping you behind the barriers you have built?
I don’t have an answer to those questions. It is up to each one of us to figure that out.
I do know that Christ came so we (God’s children) would not have to live behind barriers.
Eph. 2:13-18 NIV
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us, abolishing the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.
You cannot put a barrier around your life and say I will only be friendly with those who are like me; think like me, belong to the same political party as me, go to the same church, or be the same denomination or go to the same school. No!
If Christ brought us (everyone!) peace, by destroying the dividing wall of hostility, why do we continue to build walls for separation?
Why do we want to barricade ourselves from those who Christ died for?
We (God’s children) are in this world together. It doesn’t matter if we live in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China, Russa, Ukraine. As Christians, our Lord and Savior came to bring us all peace. Christ died to reconciled us to God.
We must tear down the fences (and walls) that we build and learn to live as God’s beloved children. In Peace and filled with the Holy Spirit. Amen!