Tuesday, August 22, 2017
This is the dance I reference in my reflection. Enjoy!
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
|The showers at the respite center.|
That same night, I met a brother and sister who crossed a river in their journey to arrive to the US. Their clothes were still wet and they wanted desperately to take a shower. They couldn't stay apart from each other very long because the boy couldn't hear or speak and his sister communicated with him using gestures in some kind of home-grown sign language. She said he never went to school and just learned this at home. Despite all of this hardship, he had a constant smile on his face. And even though we could not communicate with words, or even gestures, his eyes spoke. He could not stop looking at me. And I didn't want to look away because he made me uncomfortable. I didn't want him to feel shame. So I looked back, with love. His eyes spoke of curiosity, of kindness, and of loneliness. I hope that my eyes spoke too, and that they spoke of love.
|Maria's son tried to take a picture of us on my last day in Texas.|
L to R: Sr. Nicole, Sr. Marla, Sr. Maxine
Her pain, her fear, her inadequacies were evident in that one sentence. And the power of God's love allowed me to be a conduit and show Maria what is possible with God. Unconditional love has not been a part of her reality and I am humbled to have been able to show her a first glimpse of it. I could not have done that without listening to Maria and slowly building a relationship with her over time.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
|Teresa and I enjoying ministry in Texas.|
Saturday, May 13, 2017
|Walking the viacrucis on our pilgrimage to the church.|
|We were greeted with this beautiful altar as we prayed our condolences to Mary.|
|Happy toes in the Gulf of Mexico.|
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Perhaps that is why people in power capitalize on fear to get what they want. Any president in power during a war used fear to manipulate peace. And traffickers and abusers use fear to control their captives. Fear of the "other" was a strong theme during our election season. Candidates capitalized on fear to get what they wanted, election. And our current president is using fear of deportation to maintain the facade of order. But what most do not know is that fear of deportation and hyper-militarization has been a reality on the border for decades. Presidents with immigration policies on both sides of the aisle militarized the border and has "kept peace" on the border using fear.
I would say that fear does anything but bring peace.
As a result of the tangible culture of fear in the Rio Grande Valley, the people are strong. They may still be scared, but they have to continue living through the fear. And many have learned that they have their own kind of power. It is not the power of the oppressor, but the power of the oppressed.
This year as holy week begins, I find myself reflecting on the fears present in the scriptures. We hear often from Jesus, "do not be afraid." There must have been a lot of fear if he had to say it so often. Now that I think of it, it seems as if fear is a human quality. Fear arises when the illusion of control is dismantled in our lives. Ironically, our fear often ends up controlling us.
I am fearful when I move or change jobs. Jesus was fearful in the garden of Gethsemane before his capture. The scribes and pharisees feared Jesus because he brought into question all that controlled their lives. Peter feared being mocked which led him to deny knowing Jesus. The women of Jerusalem feared what might become of their children. For this holy week, why not reflect on what I fear? What do I fear most? Why am I scared? What can and do I do to continue living in the face of my fear? What consolation does Jesus have for my fears? How do I hear his "be not afraid"?
We need to not let our fear control us. We need to be courageous like Maria, Ramona, Lisa, and Carmen. What other choice do we have? Being constantly fearful is no way to live. Causing constant fear is no way to live.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
|Beauty in the desert.|
"We are being asked to give less than we are prepared to give, and that will require more of us than we expect."
Monday, March 13, 2017
|Despite needing work, the cheerful color of the one-room schoolhouse greets us each week.|
|Setting up the classroom so we can teach two different sets of children. The classroom walls are bright and full of learning tools, the alphabet, numbers, and behavior charts.|
Sunday, March 5, 2017
|Empty tents at the Humanitarian Respite Center.|
Life here in “the valley” has truly been affected by the various executive orders signed by our president in the past month. What was once hundreds of immigrants being released from detention each day, is now no more than 30 each day. If a wall is built, it will be harder for companies who employ people on both sides of the border to do business. There will be fewer jobs and legal immigrants will not be able to see family as often. In addition to less new immigrants, the threat of deportation is always looming for families in the valley, but the people still have an immense amount of hope. The threat is real, and deportation is pulling families apart. One woman was just deported a few weeks before her daughter, a US citizen, was to get married. Now she is stranded in a Mexican city she does not know, and a country she has not lived in for at least three decades. And, she will not be able to witness the marriage of her daughter. But still, the people have hope. I wonder, where does this hope come from? Christianity is a part of their Latino culture, and that gives them hope. For many, they have experienced much harder realities, and since God saw them though those tough times, why would God abandon them now? God never abandons us.
As lent began this week, I have been using Lenten reflections on connectedness from Judy Cannato's book "Quantum Grace". Two lines have stuck with me all week, "We are called to bare our hearts, to stand naked and vulnerable before God. This is the prerequisite for restoring unity." I can't help but think that what our country needs, what our border needs, is a healthy dose of vulnerability. There are visible divisions here and around our country. How can we, as Christians called to "rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God" (Joel 2:3) show our vulnerability and work toward unity with our brothers and sisters - no matter where they are or who they are.
We are indeed all connected by the very dust that we came from and return to. We all certainly house the divine and are made to bring that image to each other. How can I be more aware of others' vulnerabilities this lent? How can I make myself vulnerable before God and before my fellow humans? How can my actions work toward unity and not toward division?
Join me as I try to make myself more vulnerable before those I encounter and play one small part in healing divisions in our country and on our border.
Ok, one last story. Last week, Sr. Maxine and I convened a group of people in the parish who would be interested in a grief support group. Because Sr. Maxine cannot speak spanish, the group was to be in english only. When we arrived at the meeting, it became apparent that people of all language abilities were interested. How could we turn them away? So here we were, some who speak only english, others only spanish, others bilingual, and everything in between. But there was no problem. Everyone made sure everyone else could understand. As the meeting went on, because everything was being translated by multiple people, it was as if the community were speaking rather than individuals. Communication is a community event. In order for a community to speak, the members must be vulnerable with each other. Unity in the midst of things that should divide us. I am learning a lot about community from my brothers and sisters on the border.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
|Eating Texas-shaped waffles at our hotel in northern Texas.|
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Amazingly, I was wide awake this morning when we began our journey to Texas at 6am. So I drove the early morning shift. The quiet was tangible, and as the city lights faded behind us, they were replaced by pillowy clouds of fog cradled in the Kentucky valleys, wrapped in a blanket of night. The scenery invited a peaceful contemplation.
As we ventured further south, little signs of spring began to pop out at me. Trees were flowing and small new-green buds populated branches on the side of the road. (Pictures 1-2)
Friday, February 10, 2017
While I am a healthy dose of nervous (who wouldn't be with that much change?), I am also very excited and joy-filled. God had a big part to play in the fact that I am even going to Texas. I never thought I would be asking to minister on the border. But back in October when I was discerning about possible placements for my second year of novitiate, I reflected on some of Pope Francis' words, urging us to discern where the margins are in our world today and to go there. At the time, as there still is today, there was much hateful rhetoric about immigrants. And I thought, where else are the margins in our country today if not at the physical border? I felt this spirit pulling me to the border in a very real way.
But where was this feeling coming from? I was never the one to harp around immigration issues. Sure I agreed with those who did, but it just wasn't my passion. But here I am feeling pulled, called, to the Rio Grande Valley to stand at the margins with my immigrant brothers and sisters. As I went to my novice director and described this call I was feeling to her, I soon found out that she had felt the very same call for me and had already started investigating how I might spend some time on the US-Mexico border. How good God is to work in that way!
|Teaching migrant children last summer opened my eyes to the hardship of an immigrant's life and the joy they bring to the world.|
As I sit here, reflecting on my last year and a half in Kentucky, I am struck by how much the people I have met here mean to me. When I moved here, I quickly realized that I need to be rooted in my community, involved in city events, and making friends in all walks of life. And I have done that. I knew that I would have to say goodbye eventually, and most likely sooner rather than later. But what I didn't anticipate was how much my leaving would affect them.
I'm used to leaving, picking up the roots I so carefully laid out and transplanting them in another place. It doesn't make it any easier each time, but at least I know what to expect. But the people I have met here are not always used to my itinerant lifestyle. Sometimes wires can get crossed and misunderstandings happen. It can feel like a rejection.
But I am not rejecting Kentucky. I am not rejecting Cincinnati. And I am not rejecting the people I have met and so lovingly formed relationships with. In fact, it is just the opposite. I am taking each person with me. I have learned a unique lesson from each relationship and these lessons will help me in my next adventure.