I have always loved the classic boxwood hedge. As long as I can remember I have wanted a yard filled with topiary dragons and pirate ships. I realize that these are not practical but the boxwood hedge itself is a wonderful, practical shrubbery.
Boxwood can be used to make a real fence. It looks lovely lining long driveways. It can be grown tall or short and readily lends itself to many shapes and uses. I have wandered through boxwood mazes. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing topiary decorated with Christmas lights or covered with snow. All considered, it may be my very favorite kind of shrub.
It offers ready homes to many kinds of birds and critters. Yes, I said critters. I once spent a summer watching a family of rabbits that had taken up residence under a lovely boxwood hedge in front of a neighbor’s house. Perhaps someday I will get to enjoy some proper boxwood hedges of my own.
There are others ways that hedges can be useful. In ancient times they were used to protect gardens, to hide in, and even to symbolize care and safety. God spoke to Ezekiel concerning looking for a man to “make up a hedge” for him. Hedges are used to symbolize both good and bad things throughout the Old Testament. Much discussion is undertaken concerning ways in which the Pharisees created a hedge around that law that enslaved the people to an empty practice that left behind God’s loving intent for us as his followers.
We must consider carefully the hedges we build into our lives and the ways in which we shape them once they are built. Do we build hedges of love and grace that are inviting or our hedges thorny and dark; built to keep others out and at a safe distance? Do we interpret what God calls for in his word from within a hedge of his love and character? I know that I have built hedges around it that command others to be or do in a certain way so that they are protected from errors I see them about to make. Even though this seems good it is not.
In looking at the way in which we hedge our obedience to God I find that in the very first stories out our race, the hedge practice is vivid and dangerous. Eve is questioned in the garden about what trees are acceptable for food. She responds that except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they may eat of any tree. She then says that she is not even supposed to touch it or she will die. Who told her this?
God never tells them not to touch the tree. He does say not to eat the fruit. Someone, Eve, or Adam, has put into Eve’s mind not to touch the tree. The first account of hedging what God has commanded so that we do not have to depend on his grace and provision to obey him.
Hedges can be very beautiful but also very dangerous. I am examining the hedges I have erected and attempting to uproot the ones that are there for ungracious purposes. I am hoping to remove the unnecessary mazes and sculpt what remains into beautiful inviting art that invites the spirits of others to come out to play.
Wishing you joy in the journey,