International news headlines always come to me in full color and with surround sound.
I attribute this to the fact that I grew up in another country.
I hear on the news about Syria, and I see a child, half-clothed, running, lost and scared, mouth wide with fear, eyes wild, confused, choking down snot, dripping tears, tripping ‘cross potholes dotting dusty streets, and wondering.
Where’s mommy? Where is she? Where did she go?
The child’s fear of abandonment having indeed become his reality.
I see mother’s rocking dead children, cradling them desperately, wrestling time itself.
If only. If only. I would have protected you with my very body, my own life, little one. If only.
I see spouses helplessly seething, beholding in agonized helplessness their beloved’s beautiful bodies being pillaged, plundered.
I am yours and you are mine. I, me, you, us. It isn’t enough. It’s. Not. Enough!!!!
I see family’s leaving homes which once felt cozy and safe in great haste, wondering whether they will ever again find such an abode, knowing that if, in the off chance they do, their deepest selves have been uprooted so as to never rest, really rest, again.
Home is gone. Rest is gone. I am displaced, alone.
I tell my children bits and pieces. They must know. They must know this world is not safe, easy or just for so many. They must know the privilege they have been born into. They must be inspired and moved and indeed unsettled.
To whom much is given, children.
And the questions come. What can we do?
Indeed, friends, what can we do?
We can refuse to live in fear. We can step outside of our pet politics and our favored political parties and SEE the real people behind every press release. We can let our hearts break.
We can refuse to remain ignorant. Research, friends. Read articles from a variety of news outlets. Do not let your hearts harden. Keep an open mind.
We can enlighten those around us.
We can volunteer and give.
I won’t even pretend I’m an expert on world events or humanitarian crises. I won’t pretend I’ve done a great job of giving or volunteering.
But I refuse to let my own faults and shortcomings keep me from writing my heart. Every little bit of good we do is worth it.
Love matters. Compassion matters.
I’ve been convicted of late as a light has been shone on my desire, indeed lust for, safety, security and peace.
Have a listen to these podcasts:
Looking Through A Lens of Compassion
It’s deeply ingrained within my crusty American heart to store up wealth for my future, for those “just in case” moments.
Not to mention that I just love a good shopping trip; the feeling of carrying armfuls of bountiful plenty home is intoxicating and as good as any drug.
But, am I called to love money and security? Is my spirituality to be measured in how much I have, in how good a steward I’ve been whilst doling out my monthly 10%?
Long have I pondered the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), because upon first reading it, it made no sense.
I could not understand why the servant who had been given one talent and then buried it (in order to save it for his Master) would be so harshly condemned.
Hadn’t he been careful with the money he was given? At least he did not go out and squander it, right?
And why were the servants who took risks with the money they’d been given praised?
Why does the parable describe the Master in this way: “[...] a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed [...]”, considering the Master seems to be a depiction of Jesus?
The parable indicates that it was right to take risks with the money because of the qualities of the Master (mentioned above).
I’m sure there are a myriad of deep meanings to this parable, and that I am only skimming the surface, but here’s what occurs to me as I ponder it:
I’m pretty sure this means I need to step out of the way and let my heart soften. I need to let go of the fear which encourages me to hoard safety and security, abundance and fun.
I can do this because I am part of a kingdom that doesn’t value wealth or power or hoarding. It values growth and giving, risk-taking and fearlessness.
I confess that even writing these words terrifies me. I know them to be true. I know it, deep in my bones. But I’m afraid.
If I let my heart soften, what will God ask of me?
In the stillness and dust which settles in the wake of that messy question, there hangs this portrait of abundance, multiplication.
And I’m simply sure I’m supposed to show up every day, whatever that means, with a soft and tender heart, unafraid.
In the wise words of Anne Lamott, “If you give freely, there will always be more.”
We as writers understand how much words matter.
For example, there is a difference between calling people “invaders” and calling them “refugees”.
Pause for a moment and reflect upon the term “invader”. What words come to mind when you hear this term?
Now, do the same with the term “refugee”.
Buried somewhere beneath all the rhetoric, news reports and politics are flesh and blood people; the people who are having heated debates on the one hand, and the people who are being argued over on the other.
I wonder if we could pause amidst all the squabbling and squawking to ask why there are so many children — without grown-ups or caretakers— showing up in our detention centers.
So far this year, 56,278 unaccompanied children have come running into our country.
I can’t help but ask, “Where are these children coming from, and why are they here?”
Before I share what I have learned, I would like to note that many of these children are fleeing with an adult who is not a parent. The adult and child are separated once they are apprehended coming across the border.
Where are these children coming from? Why are they here?
There is a segment of Central America known as the Northern Triangle. This segment includes the countries El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Many of the people “caught” trying to cross the border into our country are from this part of the world.
One of the main reasons children are fleeing these Central American countries is because of increased violence towards women and children, including kidnapping, murder, rape and torture. Here is a very informative article: "Fleeing For Our Lives: Central American Migrant Crisis".
If your daughter were nearing puberty, and you saw the “writing on the wall”, the “ticking clock” to impending horror, would you not do everything in your power to protect her, including fleeing to another country and seeking asylum?
As an aside, these folks are not just fleeing to the United States but also to neighboring countries. They are desperate.
Other reasons children are fleeing are that they are targets of human trafficking, or because they are being recruited into gangs.
Can we really call these little ones “invaders”, friends?
Imagine a child showing up on your doorstep today, alone, cold and hungry. Would you really slam the door in that child’s face, trembling with terror, then begin to rant and rave about your own limited resources and this child’s desire to “take advantage” of you? Would you not help this child?
The only "side" we should be taking is the side of the victim...
My dear friends, do we not pay taxes to our government in the hopes our government will use our money well?
Do we truly want our government to be “threatened” by refugees, mostly children, seeking asylum? Are we okay with the negative rhetoric being used to describe these suffering citizens-of-Planet-Earth?
Would we like for our government (which is, after all, “of the people, by the people, for the people”) to swivel from a defensive posture to a more welcoming, prepared posture?
Do we want our government to place these least little ones in detention centers and treat them as though they are common criminals? Wouldn’t we like for our government to better use our tax dollars in addressing this humanitarian crisis?
Perhaps refugees aren’t on your mind. Perhaps they are not a priority for you. Perhaps your mind is currently flooding with all the “in-house” needs our country would be neglecting if it used our tax dollars for immigrants and asylum-seekers.
I would like to point out one more fact.
In 1992 the United States ratified a United Nations covenant entitled the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”, or ICCPR for short.
Among other things, this covenant grants children certain rights, including “the right to security of person” and “the right to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
When our country places children fleeing inhuman, degrading, and cruel circumstances into detention camps for extended periods of time rather than welcoming and caring for them, it is not keeping its agreement to uphold their basic rights.
If we can agree on anything, let’s agree that the United States can do better.
Let’s call our representatives and let them know what we’d like to see happen (and what we are unhappy about). If you are unsure who to call or what to say, click here for helpful information.
Let’s either volunteer or give money to organizations currently assisting these refugees.
Here are some organizations you can give through: Ciudad Nueva, Border Perspective, SEEK, RAICES, and World Relief. While these organizations were recommended to me by a party I trust, as always, do your research before giving.
Let’s refuse to use asylum seekers and refugees as ammunition for our political canons.
Let’s research, taking some time to think for ourselves about the situation, rather than gulping down spoonfuls of whatever our favorite people are saying about the situation along the border.
Finally, and most importantly, let’s refuse to use words that harm, and instead embrace words that heal.
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I'm a busy mom of three asking hard questions about my faith.