On the Building and Tearing Down of Walls
Part One of Two
walls when they need a safe place to live.
Animals build shelters for the same reason. Some say we build psychological/spiritual
walls after we’ve been hurt or betrayed.
Some say the thing to do once we’re emotionally and spiritually mature
is to tear down these walls. Some people
believe they build walls and never come out, they’re too afraid; they always
My take on
walls is different. I believe building
walls is wisdom in action. I believe we
build walls when we’re children not because we’ve been hurt, we build them
before we’re hurt—we build them out of play.
Give a child a cloth, a bed sheet, a large piece of silk and watch them almost
instantly build a fort or wrap it around themselves. Watch them transform the space underneath a
table or in a closet, in a tree—almost anywhere—into a safe, magical
place. Teens even love their own
words I believe building walls is natural, creative, holy, and necessary. Inner stress comes when we go inside and have
trouble coming back out, or when we are unable to invite people in, or when we
outgrow the space and don’t make proper renovations, or we don’t tend the space
and it becomes cramped, isolated, filled with shadows. As this happens over time, our inner space can become unhealthy and we in fact do need to come out
or let people in to help us clean.
Perhaps we sense our inner space has become too confining, restricted, or
narrow. It’s now that someone might
suggest to us that it’s time to tear the walls down. And there are some of us who need that type
of violent gesture to free ourselves and feel empowered. That’s OK. The walls came tumbling down in
Jericho after all (with the power of commitment and music, no less).
And if you
find yourself telling yourself (and others) that you never come out or you
always stay in your wall and that you can’t come out, know that words like always, never, and can’t, are
simply not true. If you had never come
out of your wall you wouldn’t know to even want to. Anytime you genuinely laughed—you were
outside the wall. Any time you wept in
front of someone you were outside the wall (or you had invited them inside). So you can
come out. The way might be cluttered,
but you can, if you choose.
I suggest a
gentle approach to walls—in building and transforming them, and choosing when
to come out or let others in. It is an
approach infused with the overarching idea that the wall was built in the first
place for a reason, a holy, and healthy reason.
It was built out of the spirit of play and to keep ourselves safe. Know
that the word paradise means a walled
garden—a safe, beautiful place surrounded by a wall. Did we use our paradise as a place to hide
and to withdrawal from painful people and situations? I hope so.
Did some of us become addicted to the inner space, the isolation? Did some of us neglect our inner gardens and
let them become over grown with weeds? Yes.
We all do to one degree or another and at one time or another. But when we know
it’s time to move out or let others in, there is a way to do so that honors
both your wisdom for building it in the first place and the wall itself. And I will share my thoughts on this process on
For now, be
with the idea that inside of you is a paradise. That’s a wonderful idea indeed.
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Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog