Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Great Wall (by Judy)

I just returned from China, where I spent the last two weeks visiting my son and his family. While there, we traveled to Beijing and spent Thanksgiving in a small village in the shadow of the Great Wall. What an amazing construction that Wall is. All the superlatives are true!

It is over 10,000 miles long, and marches along the ridges of the huge mountain range that separates China from Mongolia – uphill and downhill, never ending, disappearing finally into the mists of the horizon – with ancillary walls that break away. Periodically along the way, watch towers interrupt the road along the top of the wall, a road wide enough for several horses to pass together. All this manmade effort was to hold back the Mongolian hordes from invading the emperor’s capital.

Interestingly, because of the dramatic twists and turns in the convoluted world of mountain ranges, it is very hard to tell which side of the wall is China and which is Mongolia. There is one clue - water drainage pipes. They always descend into China, where the water was used for irrigation – and never into Mongolia, where the pipes would have provided traction for an ascent by the enemy.

All that effort – and the strategy did not work! Why – because the guards could be bribed. The wall was often breached – not because of faulty construction, but because, as Pogo said so long ago, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!” As I walked the Wall last week, shivering in the cold of the Gobi desert, I couldn’t help but consider the parallels today. We build protective walls all the time – around ourselves, and to hold back those who think differently. Our walls are national, political, social, emotional and religious. They march up and down and all around and are ultimately futile, because the problem lies within.

The 12th chapter of Corinthians reminds us that as Christians who accept the Bible as holy Scripture, there is one body, the Church, with one Head, Jesus. Though we have different gifts divinely given by God, we are baptized with one Spirit, for one purpose, common good. “And the walls came tumbling down!!”

1 comment:

  1. Welcome Home! Your description of the incredible Great Wall and its inability to protect a country against internal enemies reminds me of Psalm 127. "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." Without Him, one way or the other, the enemy is at the gate.