Moving the boundaries

Daily Reading for February 4 • Cornelius the Centurion

If a boundary defines, then moving or removing that boundary means redefinition. Something new is being identified and named. The work of changing a boundary—or moving ourselves across a threshold—demands attention and a willingness to listen to the voices around us. . . .

Any decision to include or exclude either creates a different system altogether or modifies the existing one. Indeed, revolution itself might be defined as the setting of a new boundary. Responsible shifting of boundaries requires our asking a number of questions: Where is the boundary? Who or what determined it in the first place? Is this line of God, or was it set by powers acting contrary to God’s will? Does there need to be a line drawn where there was none before? How do we know? The answers we make to these questions can help us discover when and where boundaries need to be maintained, shifted, or abolished altogether, especially concerning those areas of human life in which there is considerable disagreement. Answers do not come easily. They will emerge only after intense work in personal and communal discernment—prayer, wrestling with God’s word in scripture, honest exchange.

From Good Fences: The Boundaries of Hospitality by Caroline Westerhoff (Cowley Publications, 1999).

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