Vatican City Wall … really?

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. ~ Matthew 7: 13-14

A wall, like a locked door can sometimes keep out those we don’t want in. There aren’t too many people living in urban America today that leave their front, back, or apartment door opened or even unlocked.

Why is that, exactly, are we simply being unfriendly?

If you stop to think about all of the ‘walls’ in your life – gated communities, multiple heavy locks on your doors, firewalls on your computer, arguments about walls along our borders, and so on, and so forth, chances are that you would agree that the following lines from both Robert Frost and G K Chesterton are still relevant today.

As in this little lighter-side intro to the topic at hand from both writer-poets par excellence. To whit:

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…

The pun on ‘offence’ is pure Frost (the ‘frosting’ on the cake, even?!) and it might take some a while to figure it out. Meanwhile, in his 1929 book, The Thing, G K Chesterton paraphrased: ‘Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.’

How ironic, in addition, that our latest skirmishes about the quality of life of we and our fellow citizens are generally centered around none other than ‘Wall’ Street.

Vice President Pence at the wailing, or Western Wall, Jerusalem…

The Frost poem speaks psychologically, in that we need boundaries. It isn’t good for people to lose a sense of themselves as contained, and unique, individuals. When boundaries fail, chaos ensues, power issues tend to become prominent, and we start to lose our empathy, by which humanity is weaker for that.

Paradoxes are indeed, hard to live with.

My native England is a land for instance, where walls and fences are very much mandatory, severely regulated, and viewed with suspicion to boot. Walking past fenced gardens, this one formal, that one wild, another overgrown, perhaps, with flowers weeds and blackberries, the next converted to vegetables, yet another a gorgeous zen garden of stones and evergreens, each expresses a unique work of their owner, no conformity required or expected.

Other than the ‘keep out’ sign, that is.

On a more sober and to the point note, the Scots and Picts did not decide to raid Roman Britain because Hadrian’s Wall was built; the wall was built to deter raids that were already taking place from the north, and had been for nearly a century. Similarly, the Turks sought to take Constantinople, not because it had an impressive wall, but because it was the capital of an enemy they had been fighting for centuries, was rich, and was in a strategically crucial location.

The Israeli Separation Barrier was not built to halt the Israeli-Palestinian dream of peace, but because previous suicide bombings of Israeli buses and cafes (which killed hundreds of Israeli civilians) had already destroyed that dream. As with Hadrian’s Wall and the Great Wall of China, the Separation Barrier was built to keep the barbarians out and to protect the civilian populations within.

Hadrian’s Wall snaking 75 miles across Northern England .. commenced c.122 AD …

In the words of the late, great Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, “When the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Israelis, there will be peace!”

Fact is, that beginning with the four walls of our homes, we erect walls first and foremost for protection. We build them to allay our fears. As long as there is fear, there will be walls, since fear constitutes an emotion seated in the oldest parts of our brain.

As Mr. Frost begins it…

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
… And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

… Full content in link down below

It is not the division implied by the fence … it is the shared undertaking involved in building the fence. Therefore, walls will be with us as long as we exist, providing a constant stream of stones of contention.

Not least of which emanates from those who were ‘for’ our protection on the southern border before they were ‘against’ it. A double-minded man {or woman} is unstable in all his ways. ~ James 1:8

Who knew walls had so many sides. And gates. Or ‘escape hatches’…

If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. ~ II Corinthians 11: 30-33


On: Gate definition

Plus: 97 Bible verses on gates

Robert Frost: Mending Wall

English Heritage: Hadrian’s Wall


Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

Soli Deo Gloria!