One of my favorite Robert Frost poems, “Mending Wall,” tells of two neighbors who meet one day in the springtime at the stone wall that separates their two farms. As they walk along the wall together, each on their own side, they replace the stones that had fallen during the harsh winter. His neighbor believes in the necessity of the wall – “Good fences make good neighbors,” he says. But the poet protests –

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulder in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.”

As they wear their fingers rough, handling the stones, rebuilding the wall, the poet sees the futility of their work. He knows that there is nothing to be kept in or kept out by the wall except, of course, each other.

“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 offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down…”

Each of us lives behind some wall or another – wealth, indifference, pride, fear, social class, race, politics or religion, to name a few. We build them and rebuild them over the course of our lives in an effort to define who we are and who we are not, what we believe and do not believe, who is our neighbor and who is not. We pass them down to our children and grandchildren, who commit to rebuilding them with hands worn rough and hearts as hard as the stones they carry.

“He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well.
He says it again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

But something there is that doesn’t love a wall, and the Apostle Paul said that something was Christ himself. By his death and resurrection, Christ has made those who were once far away from each other one family, fellow citizens with God’s people and members of the household of God. We are no longer strangers to one another. Christ has torn down the dividing wall of hostility that has separated us (Ephesians 2).

Paul speaks not in the future tense, but in the present. It has already happened. This is our new inheritance. The wall no longer stands. But the question yet remains: will we squander our inheritance by trying to rebuild the old walls, or will we seek out the gaps that “even two can pass abreast?”


Photo Credit: MSH*