Listening to Vertigo by U2: Another rainy day, but a perfect time to write.
One of the most famous ruins in the world is Hadrian’s Wall in Britain. 84 miles long and about 11½ feet tall, it was built by the Romans to protect the border of their northern outpost and to impress those who came against it with the awesome power of the Empire. The wall was not only a protective measure against invaders, but it also worked as a border structure that controlled trade and collected levies. The jagged hillsides surrounding it added to its strength. Many men labored to complete this wall that was also bolstered by wooden posts or as some believe a wooden rampart.
When I look at this ruin now in less than half its glory, I too am in awe. What is it about walls that as human beings we respond to so positively? Is it just the need for physical and emotional protection that we are driven to build them? Did this habit first start with our nomadic ancestors who tired of roaming? Perhaps, it was the innocent farmer who was attacked, brutalized and stolen from, or ancestors who felt the drive to claim a plot of dirt or grass as their own.
I often wonder why walls at times are viewed negatively. We talk about “letting down our walls” or “putting up walls”. Up or down, sometimes they are both a necessary and a harmful barricade. When I look at the rolling hills surrounding Hadrian’s Wall, I think of the soldiers who stood there and kept watch.
Gazing at the surrounding view, it reminds me of my own wall: my home and even myself. Like the rolling hills, the friends and family in my life surround me. My wall protects them, but doesn’t keep them out. My wall shields me, but doesn’t alienate.
Have your walls been built, climbed, broken-down, destroyed? What do you think, feel or believe about the walls in your life or life in general?