On Geese & Immigration

I am haunted by geese.  At least the geese that fly over my apartment.  I’ve heard geese before.  They come often; flying overhead either because I live so close to a body of water or because their path happens to bring them above my own. 

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Geese (and many kinds of birds and insects) migrate when the seasons change and life is no longer sustainable.  The conditions of the land, water, access to food—no longer looks good, nor does it supply their needs, so it’s in their nature to move on.  Makes sense.  And long before people tied themselves plots of lands and stationary shelters, they too followed food sources and favorable weather.  

The geese that haunt me remind me of people everywhere who flee: dictators, drought, corruption, inflation and stagnant economies, gangs, drug traffickers, oppressive governments with ample stocks of military weapons.  Of course, they are fleeing.  They’ve watched the life drain out of their homelands.  Drop by drop.  Leaf by falling dead leaf off of what used to be a dense jungle forest.  Their lives are at risk and they go, even if they don’t want to go.

They don’t want to be walking with their children: babies who should be having first birthday parties, elementary school kids now absent from classrooms where they were learning arithmetic a few weeks ago, and teenagers who should be dreaming of leaving their mark on the world rather than how to stay alive for one. More. Day. 

Life for them is that bad.

It’s no wonder they run.  A spouse shot in the street.  A young man peacefully demonstrating loses an eye to a tear gas canister.  One man paralyzed and living in a wheelchair because he walked along the wrong street on his way to work and was shot by the police.  Why, we should be asking, would they stay?  Why would they stay when violence wins and foreign political and economical powers uphold a dictator?  

These are not terrorists, they are terrified.

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A year ago to the date (minus a delay for edits and posting), I stood on roadsides in Honduras.  I stood with people who—after watching their country fall apart and an election fraudulently stolen—could not stay silent any longer.  Even if it meant physical harm, intimidation, or jail time.  Did it make a difference?  I don’t know.  He was still inaugurated.  Were our new friends kept safe?  At least for a few more days.

This is the reality of Honduras but it’s not all that unique.  Other countries and cultures are struggling adding only more numbers and more feet anxiously fleeing looking for life.  When they flee, they do so because there is a chance that the unknown road north might be safer and more livable than the terrifying reality of home.

And so my heart breaks.  

Every time I hear the geese go by I wonder who has left home, with a bag slung over their shoulder and a child in hand.  Their journeys haunt me too.

Will we listen?  Will we welcome?    

 

P.S. thanks to the rev. abby mohaupt for her input and wisdom on this piece.

P.P.S. thanks to Matt Nienhuis for lending his images of geese.  You can follow some of his brilliant photography on Instagram @fstoptories.

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I went looking for fall.

I decided I wanted to experience the fall leaves and get outside a bit.  Fall  and colorful leaves are still a novelty to this child of the Evergreen state.  So I found a state park near here, got up Friday, and started driving.  Below are some thoughts that came to me as I explored.

Autumn

Lays a magic carpet

More glamorous 

Than any 5th Ave designers 

Dare to imagine

Once a year

All that is old, wilting, fading

She charms with 

Her trademark spell

Into vibrant colors and shades

Not of youthful spring

But the deep, wise hues 

In red, orange, yellows

As if before ridding herself 

Of what is no longer healthy

She sets a ceremonial fire

To celebrate what was

To remember 

The trees whisper and shake

And the colorful canopy dances

Walk in this glory

Take in the wonder

Follow the trail she has laid

Your feet will know the way

Just go

Until your soul is free

Lighter than a leaf

It sings to the tune

Of this feast of color

And being set free.

Heartbreak & Broken Glass

Last night, I sat down to write and it was all too much.  Too much suffering, too much sadness, too much worry for friends living through times of suffering and sadness.  I forces myself to write for a bit just tryng to get it out but not really finding any direction. Just swimming in a sea of emotions.

And then as I fell asleep: oh, beach glass.  A poem.  Of course.

Here’s the poem:

 

Beach glass

Broken

Shattered

By raging storms 

Jagged rocks 

Steel hulls 

Ground down as 

The waves relentless

Beat it against the sand

Over

And over

And over

 

Waves pounding in

Flowing out 

Wear down sharp edges

Dulling the shiny veneer

Dimming the brilliance

Just a glimpse 

Of what it once was

 

Bless the sun

That helps it to shine

As it lays peacefully 

At rest on the shore 

After its many trials

 

Bless the beachcomber 

For studying the rocks and debris

Recognizing the beauty 

In a lost shard 

 

Bless the Artist 

That eagerly reclaims

Anoints 

Cherishes

Creates 

Makes whole