Walls that divide and unite

Published 10:24 pm Monday, May 7, 2018

One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost, and two of my favorite poems are “Two Roads” and “Mending Wall.” 

Two lines in “Mending Wall” caught my attention. Two neighbors are repairing the stone wall that separates their properties and one says, in the first and 35th lines, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” The neighbor replies in the 27th and 45th lines, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Walls can separate us. They can also unite us. A wall defines “us.” Without a wall, there is no “us.” The Great Wall of China is the longest wall in the world running 13,171 miles ending with a 66 foot extension into the Bohai Sea located in the Shanhaiguan District of Qinhuangdao, Hebei. That “end of the wall” looks like and is named “The Old Dragon’s Head” or “Laolongtou.”

But, do you know what is the second longest wall in the world? It’s the 96 mile long Berlin Wall, although it no longer exists except in our memories. Unlike the Great Wall of China, built to keep marauders out, the Berlin Wall was built to keep people in. So it’s interesting to note, the Great Wall of China is still there after 2,000 years and the Berlin Wall came down after 28 years. 

The third longest wall is Hadrian’s Wall built in Great Britain as the northern border of the Roman Empire.

One of the most famous walls in the world is only two and a half miles around Jerusalem. It was destroyed in 586 B. C. by the invading Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar and, “This is how the city wall was rebuilt. The High Priest Eliashib and his fellow priests rebuilt the sheep gate, dedicated it and put the gates in place. They dedicated the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel. The men of Jericho built the next section. Zaccur son of Imri built the next section. The clan of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They put the beams and the gates in place, and put in the bolts and bars for locking the gate.” (Nehemiah 3)

It was again destroyed by the Romans under Titus in 70 A.D. and we have a friend in Israel right now who was drawn by the chance to see the “Wailing Wall.” It’s the small remaining segment of the Western Wall, or in Arabic, the Al-Buraq Wall. It was originally erected as a retaining wall when Herod expanded the Second Jewish Temple encasing a natural, steep hill known as the Temple Mount. 

My friend, before he left, collected hand-written prayers from his friends to “stick” into the cracks and crevices between the stones, and I think that one day I’d like to see, and pray at, the “Wailing Wall.”