I live in a land of walls.
Almost every business, almost every house, almost everywhere one looks......walls.
If there aren't walls, there are bars, and gates, and locks, and razor wire.
Things designed to keep people out.
When I first moved here, I felt like I lived in a prison.
I hated looking out every window and seeing bars.
I hated locking the key, and the deadbolt, and the gate, and the padlock on the door each night.
I hated the fear these things represented.
I grew up in a place where we never locked our house.
Before we left for a week's vacation each summer, we'd spend a few hours trying to find the door key so we could lock up while we were gone.
But as much as I laughed at the "safety precautions" when I moved here, I soon realized that I could do the same thing to my soul.
I found that it was easier to lock myself away than be hurt.
It was simpler to close the doors,
to hide behind barred windows,
to huddle away from people than to be misunderstood.
Knowing people and being known by people can only come when I step outside those walls.
Learning to speak a new language, whether of the tongue or the heart, takes work.
Understanding how someone thinks, whether in my own culture or another, takes patience.
Becoming part of a community, whether a familiar one or a foreign one, takes effort.
Being known outside the walls takes vulnerability.
And laying myself open to laughter, derision, scorn is a fearful thing.
But stepping outside the walls is the only way I can find friendship, understanding, and a place to belong.
I get that choice.
So I choose to come out of hiding, unlock the doors, swing wide the gates, and step outside the walls...
Stepping into freedom.