Last Fall, during the weeks that preceded an upcoming race, my training runs happened in the early hours of the morning. Because running is anything but my strong suit, after a long run (this is all subjective to me. Anything over 2 miles feels sooo long!), I always treated myself to a final slow walk along the breakwater wall.
On one particular morning, I was taken aback by what I saw. Where I usually saw a defining edge of wall to water, instead I saw a bouldering light where the edge of the continent met the wall. The lustre of texture and color was something to behold.
I couldn’t make out what was water and what was wall. Both were unified by simple, rich, illuminating light. The wall and water were one.
I have found refuge at the breakwater hundreds if not thousands of times before. But that morning everything connected in such a way that I saw no wall and no edge of the water.
A few months after the Berlin Wall was deconstructed, I stood alongside its remains. I pulled a few pieces off the graffiti-tagged wall to remember what it felt like and more importantly, what it stood for during all those years.
One side of the country was adorned with colorful flower boxes, beautiful awnings, flowing curtains and details of expression carved into doorways. The other side, colorless and grey. No plant life to be seen. Structures were there only as a pretense to a feeling of home.
When the wall came down and life and the beginning of equality began to seep back into Eastern Germany, people from West Germany didn’t run. They didn’t shun those from the other side. They didn’t scorn or belittle.
I was only 14. I was novice to new places so extraordinarily different from my own. But I saw such a powerful thing in those days that followed.
I saw families reunited. I marveled at flowers being shared from the West to the East. I witnessed so many Germans taking to that wall with frustration and disdain for all the time it had taken from their lives’ journey.
In a town not so far away from Berlin, my highschool A Capella group sang a “Welsh Lullaby”. The notes resonated through every open corridor in the heart of the Germany’s first women’s concentration camp.
The wall, the persecution, the devastation, the divide. I can still feel how strongly my heart pounded understanding the strength and potency of those moments.
And then, there was the re-building, the coming together, the struggle, the remembering, the life anew being breathed through every window adorned with flowers to every window that had been deemed less worthy. The breaking down of over a 100 miles of fence, barbed and woven with so many stories from both sides that yearned for balance.
Yesterday, I went down to the breakwater again. I saw beauty abundant. I saw clarity of water and freshness of sky. I heard the pounding swell.
We are meant to break down walls.
It’s part of human nature.
We are meant to stand up for others.
It’s part of what defines our purpose.
We are meant to see possibility.
It’s part of what allows our human race to thrive.
We are meant to reach out, see the other side and welcome with open arms.
Whether it’s the proposed divide and destruction on the pipeline at Standing Rock, the worry of a wall dividing Mexico from the United States border, new limitations for green cards from Eastern European countries or any other kind of divide that is being presented to the American public as a “protective measure”, we can STAND UP, we can EMBRACE and we can remain OPEN.
We are meant to break down walls.
Focal Point 📽 I will always feel chills when I hear this song. Though the attachment is not my high-school a Capella group, this group carries a similar sentiment to the overwhelming emotion felt while singing in Germany the year the Berlin Wall fell.
“A Welsh Lullaby” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7VRREXmHbEE
This post was featured in Pantsuit Nation.