God of suffering and solace, pardon and punishment, trial and triumph.
On this Shabbat when we read about the last three plagues upon Egypt, we wonder if we too are plagued.
When we hear about locusts devouring precious resources, we cannot help but think of the corruption endangering ours.
When we hear about a darkness so dense that “people could not see one another,” we cannot help but think of those who say it is necessary to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to human beings in need of help.
When we hear about the death of the first born, we cannot help but think about the cost of callousness.
We read each year of what it took to change the mind of a tyrant and wonder what it will take to change ours.
We pray tonight, O God, for a heart that is kinder than that of Pharaoh’s and for minds that are wiser than that of a mob.
We pray to stop being stubborn and to start being sensible.
We pray that we may resist all temptations to repeat Pharaoh’s most tragic mistake.
Help us never to become slaves to slavery, prisoners of our own power, cowards who cannot summon the courage with which you created us.
May the One who helped us to reach this day, this place, this moment in safety, help us to shed the same grace, the same goodness unto those who call out to us whomever and wherever they may be.
While some among us vow to “build a wall” let us resolve to build a bridge.
May this be our blessing and let us say, Amen.
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”