the danger of walls


A reflection on Luke 16:19-31 and contemporary American life

by Jeff Rainwater, 12 February 2017, Cheyenne, WY

Oh Dives, why the wall?
Do you not perceive
what keeps others out
has divided your soul?
Abundant life in peril.
The Locked Gate
is your enemy,
not Lazarus.
Inside, you
grasp in fear
only trivialities,
while, outside,
Lazarus is keeping
a precious treasure,
overlooked —
your humanity.
Open the gate, Dives!
Lazarus is dying
and so

There has been considerable talk about walls lately. The conversations have taken me back to trips abroad in the Dominican Republic and Israel where I saw many walls. Some were tall and foreboding; others were of concrete adorned on top with broken glass. It’s strange… none of those walls, even being inside them, ever made me feel safer. As I reflect on these images, my thoughts travel to one of Jesus’ parables in Luke 16:19-31. Jesus does not name the rich man, but tradition has named him Dives. I wonder if Dives thought he was great.


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