A month or so ago, I received an invitation to go on a peacemaking trip to the San Diego-Tijuana border. When my friend Sarah reached out to me over text, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that my answer would be yes, that I would do whatever it took to hop on a plane eight days later.
By the time we arrived, I was eager, hopeful, chomping at the bit to see what the three-day experience had in store.
I guess that’s when reality set in: this wasn’t going to be a quick trip over the border to eat a couple of tacos and drink a Corona, as I’d done in the past. This was an immersive experience, a deep-dive into faith and culture, into the intermingled reality of hope and despair.
In a way, this was a trip into the darkness I’ve long been protected from, into stories of the human experience my eyes haven’t always chosen to see. This was a trip that ended with more questions than answers, that rubbed dry the skin around my eyes because of the many tears that fell.
This was a trip that made me realize how flippantly I throw around words like “freedom” and “dignity” and “made in the image of God.”
This was a trip that made me question everything that’s ever come out of my mouth.
And I think that’s a good thing.
A week or so after the trip I preached at our little Episcopal church, a place that has enveloped me in new seasons of faith, whose people have become my people in the most holy and ordinary of ways.
Under the Anglican umbrella, the preacher doesn’t find herself preaching topically, but she follows the liturgical calendar. She sits with various passages from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospels and the remaining books of the New Testament. She waits for the Spirit to enter in.
And all this waiting, at least for someone like me, is actually a rather helpful and necessary thing, in fact, some might even say it’s the whole point.
I guess that’s when it hit me.
In Mark 3, Jesus is in a tangle with almost everyone around him: the crowd, the religious scribes, his disciples, and his family are all up in arms over him. They believe Jesus is getting in over his head, that he’s being a rabble-rouser, that he’s just too much.
He feels like a holy interruption.
But they forget that God is found in the holy interruptions of life. In fact, sometimes those holy interruptions are the very stuff of God.
When I think back on the weekend with Global Immersion Project, on behalf of Welcome., I think how my role was mostly to pay attention, as a peacemaker and as a listener. I listened to stories of border patrol agents and then, just a couple of hours later, to the stories of men and women who’d been deported for overstaying their welcome in a country they’d called home for decades, in the nation where they’d served in the armed forces, in the place where they’d raised their children.
I listened to the story of one woman who, because of deportation, hadn’t seen her children in eight years, but who continued to hold on and cling to beliefs of reunification, who started a non-profit aimed at helping deported Mexican mothers whose children resided in the United States.
I wept tears alongside my Latino brothers and sisters, beside those who clung to hope for asylum, beside those for whom trauma overwhelmed and threatened to suffocate their very existence.
And I don’t think I was alone when I wondered where God was in the midst of the pain, in the sorrow of lament, in the tension of not knowing.
In those moments where pain sometimes feels more soluble than hope, I want to just do something. I want to just fix it. I want to just sprinkle some magic Holy Spirit pixie dust over entire situations and make the hard things go away.
But I’m reminded that even here God is present, as I embrace discomfort and tears, as I experience feelings of intentional displacement. Here, I live in a world of both-and, mulling over memories that are simultaneously haunting and inspiring, over a three-day trip that leaves me with more questions than answers.
For here, God is present in the interruptions, even when I can’t seem to put the pieces together in my mind.
Here, holy interruptions reign: when parents are separated from children, when thousands still aren’t reunified, when the Supreme Court upholds bans of religious discrimination to our Muslim brothers and sisters.
For in these shiny bits of holy interruptions, I tend to hear pinpricks of justice just a little more loudly. I tend to see the helpers just a little more clearly. I tend to notice beauty just a little more deeply, even if it hurts in the meantime.
Today, I’m clinging to holy interruptions, mostly because it’s the only thing I’ve got.
And I’m curious …could it be the same for you?
There are incredible organizations doing incredible work out there. World Relief is top-notch in my book. Border Angels and Bordo Farms are two of the organizations we got to hear from on our trip. Love Undocumented and Welcoming the Stranger are books that have taught me so much, and otherwise, I’m listening closely to folks from the National Immigration Forum so I can better understand the situation in our country today. What else would you add? Otherwise, what holy interruptions have been catching YOUR eye lately?
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