Jibstay

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Broken Walls with Stories

Martha and I hike a lot. When it's not raining we take long daily walks in all directions. Wherever we go we find stone walls. Some of them demarcate property lines. Some of them are terraces built into the hillside. And some of them are broken remnants of buildings. And I'm always asking the question: what was that wall for? What happened there?
A good friend of ours, who grew up in this little village and is now a retired English teacher shook her head at me. "You Americans" she said, "You're always asking questions about this history behind this thing or that. We can't keep up, you know, there is so much of it here. We are surrounded by histories." She is right. Wherever you look in our region, there are remnants of 1789, the Wars of Religion, the 100 Years War, papal intrigues, Middle Ages and Crusades, Roman Empire and aqueducts and amphitheaters, and some remnants of WWI and II. That's a lot of layers, like an onion.
This sabbatical leave is allowing (forcing) me to examine all the broken walls in my life. I discover them in my sudden reactions to things and then I wonder What's that wall for? What caused that reaction? Where did that emotion come from?
You see, in the solitude of this setting, I can't blame a lot on outside factors since the church and staff have so graciously set me free. No, these are my old walls, my wounds, my fears, my hopes. I'm so grateful for the companionship of the Epistles during these days. I read Philippians this morning and was taken by Paul's multiple calls to do this, think this way, imitate that, have this mind among you. In his imperatives I hear the call to patch up the old walls, fill in the gaps, put on the roof, get back to work!

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