A Reflection on Asylum Seekers
A few weeks ago, a woman released from detention came to live at the Ranchito. She is a grandmother from Nicaragua. She has worked a lifetime sewing there and decided to try to come to this country about a year ago to escape violence and persecution. She spent 8 months in detention.
While she was there, she became part of a circle of women who prayed together everyday. Her group of sisters in detention took care of one another. They found God’s love in each other in one of the most desperate, dehumanizing, and dark places I can imagine.
The other day, she showed me these drawings that some of the other women in the prayer group had made for her.
I thought, that’s incredibly loving. And I thought, that’s nice that they can do that. Maybe there’s an art table?
Then she started to describe to me how they made these pictures. They scrubbed deodorant on the outside of a cookie packet. That makes the color come off. Then they use a piece of toilet paper to pick up the color and spread it on the paper.
And I thought, that’s love in the face of darkness. That’s love in the face of oppression. That’s faith when you have no reason to have any.
Tens of thousands of people are currently staying in immigration detention centers. These are people who are seeking asylum.
The word, “asylum” comes from Greek. It means a place of refuge, a place of rest, a sanctuary.
In some ways, we are all asylum seekers. We are all searching for a sanctuary. A safe place where we can be held in God’s loving embrace. Where we are free from worry and fear and oppression, however we experience those in our daily lives.
Let these pictures be a reminder that in our search for asylum, even when we are in the depths of the darkness, we can hold on to our faith. We can make something beautiful from nothing. We can love one another with God’s love.
I pray for all of our brothers and sisters in the detention system. I pray that they might be given basic human rights. I pray that they might be released. I pray that they might be welcomed into our community and allowed to stay. I pray that all people who are seeking asylum: refugees, our black brothers and sisters, protesters, all of us, might find a place of sanctuary. And that God might use us to create that sanctuary for others through our church. Amen.
Dianne Garcia, Pastor of Family Ministry