Good Fences Make Good Neighbors–Or So They Say

A Reflection on Galatians 5: 1-6

(With apologies to Robert Frost)

 

“Good fences make good neighbors,”

or so the saying goes.

Lines we humans draw to separate us from them

and theirs from ours

 

Lines of color

class

and kin

 

“Good fences make good neighbors”

So we keep drawing lines:

lines marking borders between those we like

and those we’d rather just avoid

 

Some as new as yesterday

and

Some going back two thousand years or more

Jew or Greek

slave or free

male or female

circumcised or not

 

Lines demarking who is in

and who is out

whom to trust and

whom to fear

 

Because, we are assured,

“Good fences make good neighbors.”

 

First we draw the lines

and then

we throw up walls—

that keep us safe and keep them in their place.

 

But “something there is that does not like a wall”

Forces of nature conspire

to remove the divides we humans like to build and keep

 

Posts decay, boards rot, stones crumble

the ground remains

unencumbered

and undivided

 

There underneath the detritus of collapsing walls and decaying fences:

The ground in which “we live and move and have our being.”

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