The heart shapes made by the coiling of the razor wire are unmistakable and cruelly ironic, an antithesis in sharp edged steel. Sometimes individuals and groups are like this. Sometimes they don’t mean to be but just are. Sometimes they definitely mean to be. Either way innocent people may be at risk and vulnerable people will be in danger.
All too frequently throughout history religious extremists have perverted a message of loving others and self into the razor wire of prejudice, suspicion, hatred and even violence, often for political ends. The Pogroms and Crusades of yesteryear are replaced today by ethnic cleansing, genocide and geo-political violence, drawn out by some on the axes of religion as camouflage for more base reasons. For witch-hunts read sexual and gender-based discrimination and exclusion. Such attitudes and behaviour creates relational space which is anything but safe for those victimised and targeted in this way.
Such razor wire is forged in the brokenness, vulnerability and fear of ordinary people. It is heart shaped because it represents an inner failure to love others in a bounded, generous, unconditional and respectful way.
In the wilderness Jesus recognised and faced up to the razor wire of human nature. He spent the rest of his life entangled in it. His disciples are called to follow him there and do the same. We have to be honest about the problems which beset both our society and our world and also root out those which may be lurking beneath the surface of our common life. Everything which warps our being and forms razor wire is under the scrutiny of God’s love and grace. During Lent the Temptation narratives encourage us to go deep into all that is wrong. Not least within ourselves.
Please do read the powerful poem ‘Love’s Touch’ which Sally has written based on this post