Mending A Wall

Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.

There is something inside of us that doesn’t like a wall. Robert Frost, the poet, feels this is true. In his poem, Mending Walls, he talks about what happens to walls during the different seasons. In winter, parts of the walls come down. No one has ever seen this happen, or even heard the noise. Nevertheless, with the coming of spring and summer, on a designated day, he and his neighbor come together to restore the wall between them. They even wear their fingers rough putting the stones back. This is something that can happen to any one of us.

Frost points out that there is a spot that does not seem to need a wall. It is where his neighbor has pine trees, and Frost, himself, has an apple orchard. “My apple trees will never go across and eat the cones underneath his pines,” he says to himself. His neighbor keeps telling him that “good fences make good neighbors”, a quote we have often heard. The neighbor learned the saying from his own father. The truth is that his father meant something different.

Walking In Darkness

Do good fences really make good neighbors? Frost senses a bit of mischief inside of himself. This is due to the springtime, of course. He wonders if he could put a different notion inside his neighbor’s head. To Frost, thinking this way is walking in darkness, not the darkness of the woods or the shade of the trees. He tells us that when we are building a wall, we should ask ourselves what it is we are walling in and what we are walling out. Good fences really do not make good neighbors.

Maybe the best way to mend a wall is to let nature take it down, and then to be big enough to haul the stones away for good. If there is a wall, how can one take cookies, or a casserole, across the wall in case the neighbor needs it? Or how can one visit one’s neighbor on a sunny morning to discuss the troubles of the world? There could also be a time when we ourselves need a neighbor. Truthfully, none of us will ever be complete without a neighbor, a good neighbor.

The Best Way To Mend A Wall

There is a story that parallels this theme. Once there were two brothers, who had a disagreement. As a result, they agreed to go their separate ways. As a dividing measure, one brother planted trees along a running creek that divided them. The other older brother decided to build a wall between them. One day, a stranger came by and asked for work. The older brother decided that the stranger could build the wall for him. With that, the brother went away and left the stranger to do his task. When the brother returned, the stranger was gone. The brother saw the creek. Lo and behold, there was a bridge across the creek. “How kind of my brother to build this bridge,” he thought to himself. The other brother also saw the bridge. He, too, was moved. “I shall go to my brother,” he said. The two brothers met on the middle of the bridge and embraced.

It does seem that God sometimes sends a stranger, or an event, to help the walls come down. There will always be a certain something that doesn’t like a wall between good people.


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