Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion. – Rumi
I recently published Thaddeus Squirrel, a Spiritual Fable, and within the book is a story within the story. It’s about a wall.
Walls are powerful symbols, sometimes in a literal sense. Years ago, U.S. President Ronald Reagan famously asked that the wall that separated two countries be torn down. Our current president wants to build a big wall to separate us from our neighbors.
To me, the more intriguing walls are the imaginary ones we build:
- We build walls between ourselves and friends or family members when we have a falling out or feel spited.
- We build walls when we shield ourselves from people of faiths and races we don’t know or understand.
- We build walls when we put up barriers that keep us from fully engaging with the world around us, causing us to miss the human connections we need to make.
In Thaddeus Squirrel, a new friend of the lead character tells a story on how walls can block us from the things we need to see and the lessons we need to learn. He goes on to say that removing these walls is easier than we might think, if we have the will and desire. Here’s the excerpt:
There was a woman who lived in a magnificent home deep in the woods, surrounded by tall trees. It had a rolling back yard with the greenest of lawns and manicured bushes everywhere. But to either side of her yard were walls. Tall, solid walls that stretched high into the sky, painted a dull shade of gray.
The woman is so used to the walls being there that she barely notices them. Until one day she hears a noise coming from the other side of the wall. At first, she thinks it’s her imagination, but when she listens more closely she hears something. Talking, children laughing, even a dog barking.
Hearing all this activity raises her curiosity. She had never thought about people being on the other side of the wall! She wonders who they are and what they’re like, and the more she thinks about it, the greater her curiosity. So she gets a ladder to look over to the other side. She places it against the wall and climbs all the way up only to find the ladder is too short. She can’t reach the top.
She has a new idea. She’ll walk around the wall. It may be tall, but how long can it be?
She’s never tried this before, as the gray wall stretches as far as the eye can see. But she decides one morning to give it a go. She walks along the wall for a very long time, until the sun is low in the sky. Yet there is still no end to the wall in sight. She turns around and heads home before it gets too dark.
The next day a new idea strikes her. She will get a hammer, the biggest hammer she can find, and bang her way through the wall. So she finds a sledgehammer and begins hitting the wall with all her might. WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! But the wall is too thick and all that happens is a few flakes of plaster peel off. She barely makes a dent.
She sits in her yard, totally dejected. She can again faintly hear the sound of people talking and children laughing and dogs barking from the other side. She looks at the wall, tall and thick and gray, and she wonders why it was ever put there in the first place. What purpose did it really serve? She wishes it were gone.
Next, something unusual happens. As she stares at the vast gray wall, she notices that at one point there appears to be a blemish on it. It looks like a small bump. Funny, she thinks, she had never noticed a bump on the wall before. She walks up closer and discovers that it isn’t a bump at all. It looks more like a knob. She gets even closer and notices something else. The faint outline of a door.
She touches the knob, then places her whole hand around it, and turns. At the same time, she pulls ever so slightly, and to her amazement she finds it really is a door. She opens it, steps through the doorway, and is now on the other side. This woman has just walked through the wall! The people there are thrilled to see her and they greet her like a long, lost friend. The door had been there all along. She just hadn’t noticed it. She had no regrets, she was just glad she had made it to the other side.
It just goes to show you that sometimes you can look far and wide for the things you seek, yet in reality they are right there in front of you. You’ve just never taken the time to really open your eyes and see them.
What walls exist in your life? What efforts can you take to tear them down, climb over them or take the long walk around them? When we take action to remove the barriers in our life, we often find that the wall was of our own making, imaginary, and a small amount of effort helps us get to the other side.
Note: I first heard a version of this story many years ago from a source I can’t identify. Should you know its origin, please let me know and I’ll mention it here.