December 11, 2020
The third week of Advent: JOY
By Kelsey Creech (2nd Year YDS/ANS)
The scene on the border is complex. It is a place filled with pain and sorrow and despair, but also a place for joy. That joy, I believe, is the mark of resiliency.
What a task it is to write about joy while also bearing witness to pain and injustice. As I write this, I am reminded of the children we saw play, of the beautiful works of art along the border wall, and of the meaning found in the co-ops we visited. The joy present in these spaces stood starkly in contrast to the rest of the landscape. The works of art commemorated and stood opposite the stories of unidentified migrant lives lost as they searched for new life in the Arizona desert. The co-ops juxtaposed themselves directly opposite the border of the courts where people who attempted to find new life in the United States but had their search cut short and canceled were criminalized and sent back. The laughter of children playing jump rope seemed nearly impossible after hearing of the situations that forced their parents to migrate in the first place. Amidst the pain, sorrow, and despair, there is joy.
I cannot of course describe to you the exact feelings or thoughts of the people I met. On a narrative tour, you learn the stories, but you do not learn the intricacies of the people you meet. I can, however, describe to you the sparkles in the eyes of the children as they played jump rope, safe inside their gated compound. I can detail the beauty of the art along the border and the catharsis of viewing art dedicated to commemorating and speaking out against injustice. And I can celebrate the hard work of the women of the compound we visited who prepared enchiladas for us and sold me a beautiful, bright green bag which I now carry everywhere. In these spaces, I can attest to the joy I witnessed in others and share what it taught me about resiliency.
The desert is dry and hostile, but life is resilient. Cacti bloom, albeit for short periods of time, and javelina, little pig-like creatures, make the arid space their home, foraging for food and water in the desolate landscape. Against the odds, life finds a way. Our borders are dry and hostile, but life is resilient. Children play and laugh, when they find safe spaces, and adults, filled with the complexities of adult memory and emotion, make the hostile border their home, supporting each other and finding ways to process their past and present. Against the odds, life finds a way.
This is the joy of humanity, a group resiliency that shows up when we are in community with one another. Please join me in the following prayer on this Sunday of Joy in our Advent Season.
Loving Creator, we lament the injustices at our southern border and the horrors that put people in situations of forced migrations, we repent our complicity in these things, and we hope for a future where they are no more. While we wait and work for the realization of this hope, we thank you for the resiliency of human community and the joy we can find with each other. Amen.
For an introduction to this weekly series, see the story on our News feed.