Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good Fences

Poet Robert Frost wrote the often quoted line, “Good fences make good neighbors.” But, don’t for a moment think that he actually believed it. In fact, he didn’t say so much as he quoted it. He was, after all, quoting his neighbour.

The poem is entitled, “Mending Wall,” and speaks of a tradition that would find neighbours walking the fence dividing their property in the springtime to mend the winter’s damage. It was a back-breaking effort of placing fallen stones back on the fence. If the poem is written in the first person, then it is Frost who doubts the exercise of mending the wall and the axiom that, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Frost wonders if there is some unseen force, and I say perhaps even God, who causes fences to tumble, a force that will wait until our backs are turned to destroy those things that divide us.

From the Mending Wall
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 make gaps even two can pass abreast.

As we consider the image of Christ the King, let us not forget that it is an image of our creating. Appropriate I guess, in terms of our human frailty compared to God’s majesty. But, I doubt it’s an image God would choose. Instead God choose to become one of us, as a parent, sibling, teacher or friend, as frail as us. This is the kind of king God chooses to be, markedly different from what we see of human monarchs.

When we think about the kind of king God is, one motivated by loving all that God created, it changes (or at least should change) our understanding of how we relate to one another. I would go so far as to say - that which keeps us from our neighbour, keeps us from God.

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