“I dare you to cross that line!”
The sneaker clad foot of the skinny kid with the burr haircut dragged through the dry soil, creating a wavy line between him and the other neighborhood boys. It looked like a stand off.
Jaw stuck out, the heavy-set leader of the ragtag gang of boys belligerently stepped right up next to the line, being careful to stay behind it.
He challenged the skinny kid. “What you gonna do if I cross it?”
The slim loner swallowed hard and stared the challenger down.
“You’ll just have to find out, won’t you?”
The big fellow edged his foot toward the line and barely, just barely, stuck the toe of his sandal over. Looking contentiously at the light-weight on the other side of the squiggly line, he decided to take the bull by the horns.
He stepped across it.
The boys behind him held their breaths. All eyes were on the skinny kid.
“Well? What are you gonna do?”
The boy with the short hair looked at his antagonist. For a moment, it appeared that fists would fly.
A smile appeared on the boy’s face. “Ha! Looks like you’re on my side now. C’mon. Let’s play some softball.”
I’m thinking tonight about the boundaries we draw. For some inexplicable reason, we seem to have a desperate need to draw lines.
In the sand. In our cars. Around our homes. Between countries. Between people.
The other night, walking alongside the creek downtown, I saw the flashes of lightning in the northwestern sky. They were still a good ways off, but nonetheless, it appeared that we were due to have a storm roll through soon.
Before I had headed out the door for my (then) moonlit stroll, I looked at the weather report with the Lovely Lady.
She was nonchalant about the possibility of me returning from my walk in a downpour.
“Oh, the rain is all still way up in Kansas. It’ll be a long time before it arrives.”
Kansas. That’s miles away.
I haven’t been in the state of Kansas for ten years. Really. Storms all that far away will take forever to get here.
Yet, less than half an hour later, the clouds were gobbling up the stars overhead and the voltage in the sky was making its way to the ground with disturbing regularity.
Clouds and rain and lightning apparently care even less about boundaries than do boys who have been provoked. State lines? Those aren’t barricades to stop the wind and the storm.
The Teacher Himself said it.
“The wind blows where it wants. You hear it, but don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going.”
I might as well have put up my hand and shouted halt in the midst of a stampeding herd of cattle. The beautiful harvest moon above was extinguished and the stars disappeared as if they were candles being snuffed out one after another.
I knew when I was defeated. Hurriedly, my feet beat a path for home and shelter. Even so, more than a few drops had already landed on my head before I pushed the back door open at last.
Boundaries. We need them.
Boundaries. We need to do away with them.
Interesting concept, isn’t it? Both statements are true.
Some boundaries, we need.
The traffic cop in Brooklyn sets a boundary simply by putting up his hand. The two-ton masses of steel and plastic skid to a stop and wait impatiently for the boundary to be lifted, so they may be on their way once more.
It is a boundary that is absolutely essential. The cross-traffic must have safe passage. The hand of the policeman is all that guarantees access without fear of chaos and destruction.
Do you wonder at the power of that one gloved hand? Don’t.
It has the power of the government and the people, and God, behind it.
The Apostle wrote the words he was given to share, centuries ago.
“There is no authority, except from God and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”
It would be an easy thing to get tangled up in discussion about this concept, but there is more to say tonight about boundaries. I’ll just leave that little rabbit trail alone for now and move on.
Some boundaries should never have been put up in the first place.
The list is endless. Class divisions are odious, causing envy and anger. Racial divisions are just as bad, not only dividing us, but putting us at war with each other. It is a war which cannot be won.
I couldn’t begin to list all the other boundaries my mind jumps to as I write. The reader will, no doubt, have already begun to add to that list in his/her mind, as well.
From our days of playing in the sand box, we have drawn the imaginary lines. Those lines have blurred and new ones have been drawn in the sands of the years. Some will take extraordinary effort to efface; others will only be removed by the sole Power which actually has the authority to draw such lines (and the means with which to enforce them).
I observed some lines being drawn this afternoon as I worked in my store. The children who blew through the sales floor one after another had only a couple of words for me.
“Hi Grandpa,” was all any of them uttered, as they headed for the back door.
The curious boy, the risk-taker, must have seen something of interest before he hit the door. I heard the noise of physical objects being moved near the shelves where the band instruments awaiting repair are stored.
The careful one, the obeyer-of-rules, followed close behind. Within seconds, the boundaries were being set as his authoritative voice laid down the law.
“Mom told us to go straight through. You’re not doing what she said.”
The little policeman and the lawbreaker stood, at odds with each other–the boundaries reinforced as they bickered. Then something happened that erased the line completely and instantly.
Mom followed them into the back room.
The officious voice stopped in mid-sentence, the indifferent whine of the other boy trailed off, as well.
Before The Authority, all other authority pales. Differences put aside, both boys wandered out the back door in apparent amity.
The preacher in me wishes to explain all. I would have my readers miss not a single detail of the message.
The man I am suggests that it is time to leave be. Wisdom may be found in silence, too.
I am, after all, learning the same lessons.
I seem also to be erasing the same lines in the sand.
And figuring out which ones stay.
This could take awhile.
“And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
(Mark 4:39 ~ KJV)
“‘I like geography best,’ he said, ‘because your mountains & rivers know the secret. Pay no attention to boundaries.'”
(from Story People by Brian Andreas ~ American author/publisher/technologist)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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