“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…”
In the famous poem by Robert Frost, “Mending Wall,” we find this description of God. I say that rather boldly, probably too boldly for Beulah Jodrie, my college English professor, but I won’t qualify it. I claim that it is a description of God, whether someone finds it to describe something else, even spring as Frost himself intimates. There is something within life that doesn’t like walls and so life works against them. I believe that’s God.
Spring is laying claim to Lancaster County. The thawing mud of March, gave way to breezy, rainy, drying, cooling and warming alternatives of April, which have now settled into a fertile May. A daily and gentle reveal of life’s ferocity weaves unrelenting change into the landscape’s tightly knitted tapestry. It plays visual harmonies until life expresses a different tune. Like multi-media jazz it infiltrates and invites the senses to follow, to explore and to diverge from wintering routine. Life is laying claim to Lancaster County.
And that’s the revealing glory of God.
It is this abundant reminder that life wins and will not be conquered. It will not be kept out by walls or fences. That image always makes me think of Jesus clearing the Temple. He broke down walls. He became our peace or “wholeness.” There are a lot of images of and suggestions about where and how he did that. My personal leaning is that it was toward the back, in the area called the “Court of the Gentiles.”
I am moved to that by the words he uses and by the layout of the space. Everyone moved through this court or section where those who came to love the God of the Jews, but who were not Jews, could gather for worship. There was a sign, which archaeologists found and we have today, which warned any non-Jewish person who walked into other portions of the Temple that they were responsible for their own death.
It was in this area that, I believe, money changers, pigeon and sheep sellers had set up their booths and were doing business. Imagine how people who were made to worship in that area would understand their worth, their value in the eyes of God or in sharing the promises of the community of God’s people. The animals’ noises, the haggling, the pushing past and the variety of insensitive voices of different languages doesn’t sound conducive to worship, does it?
Jesus overturned the tables, grabbed some ropes and drove out the marketers, shouting at them, “My house will be called a house of prayer for ALL peoples, but you have made it a den of thieves.” He broke the dividing wall, pushed a hole into the fence of prejudice. And later, when Greeks came seeking to see him, Jesus said, “Now is my glory revealed.” Life wins.
Some people say “Love wins,” but that’s too big a claim for me to make because all sorts of claims are made along with that as to what love looks like. But I can tell that life wins. I can tell it in Jesus. And I can tell it in the Lancaster County. I believe that’s God’s reveal in both cases. And for today, that’s plenty big enough for me to take in.