On the first day of our time in Berlin, we were taken on a tour of the Berlin Wall Memorial. It was poignant to be able to physically stand in the chasm – the no man’s land – between what was once West and East Berlin. I couldn’t help but be truly thankful for the physical ease and safety with which I could freely exist and move in the space.
My reflection from being at the Berlin Wall Memorial comes in the form of series of questions, to which I do not hope to find an answer. Instead, I hope that by searching for understanding and different perspectives, I, and maybe you also, will be able to see and reach into the borderlands.
The Walls We Encounter
Those living nearby could rarely pass a day without being reminded of, or seeing, the wall's imposing presence. But, not all walls that separate us are as overt. Might you have erected some walls on your own faith (for instance, limiting what or how you believe)? Or are you part of a community enclosed by walls – preventing some from getting in, and restricting those inside exploring the world around? And in amidst these walls, who might you have stranded in the precarious desolation of no man’s land?
The Walls We Maintain
Our guide mentioned that the soldiers who were guarding the border did not receive the message from their government to dismantle the wall. It struck me of the power held by those in authority, and how the walls you have identified could so easily be felled by their command. And what of you – many of whom stand guard at the border – how would you react when confronted by those outside longing to enter in? What is stopping you preceding the commands of the authority? And if you find yourself in a no man’s land, please do not build your own walls whilst you wait. Instead, ready yourself for reconciliation – prepare your hearts to heal, your stories to share, and find within you a faith-filled forgiveness.
The Walls We Resist
When the time finally comes for the walls to come down, who should we then be listening to? Should we continue to empower and amplify the power that created and maintained the walls? Should we broadcast the defiant inside insurgents who advocated for change? Maybe we should raise up the testimonies of the marginalised and excluded now accepted and included? Or does this moment reconciling call for a new, communal voice to resound?
As I said, it is not my hope that definitive answers are uncovered , nor do I advocate for them to be sought. Instead I encourage you to reflect on the walls you encounter, maintain, and resist. I encourage you to critically examine your own actions in manifesting the levelling of all the walls, in the name of equality and reconciliation.