Welcoming the Stranger


I had this weird thing happen to me a long time ago. It was sad and it was hard and it pushed me away from something that had been a big portion of my life. Like hands planted on my chest, a big shove, and I landed on my ass.

And then other things happened and other people were blinking up from their puddle on the playground, shocked to find that they too, were in the mud.

So I went a long time not wanting anything to do with any of that. 

And then I found a place, you can read all about it here (https://astrawberrypointe.wordpress.com/?s=prodigal+party) where it isn’t about all that. It’s about Love.

We have our crazy moments.

We gossip about each other.

We sometimes don’t like each other.

But. But.

We all agree readily that our big red door means all are welcome. So I watched the President speak tonight on immigration. I cried a little. When he talked about ripping children from the arms of their parents. When he talked about that mom who is working to support her kids and that dad working two or three jobs. Those folks who are constantly on the knife point of failure and deportation.

Well. No one is going to deport me. But we know about those things too, don’t we? Even if it isn’t us. Wasn’t it our dads who worked two or three jobs? Our moms who were exhausted having taken care of husband and children and a job all day? I know I’ve been there. Been in that place where I don’t really care if my people eat cereal for dinner, as long as they leave me alone and put their dishes in the sink.

These people that the President was referring to, the difference is that they can lose everything in a bigger way.

No one is going to take my children from me and send me back to some other country. No one will discover, through some on the job accident, that my husband is not here legally. So we work, all of us, toward the same goal, but many of us with a much great sense of the risk.

I’ll be honest. I winced a little when His Majesty quoted (sort of) scripture tonight. When he talked about welcoming the stranger. It seemed like some mishmash of a bunch of different verses, but I got what he meant. I feel like he’s been the president who has NOT blamed or prayed to or invoked religion at all in his presidency. (A huge issue for those who still think he is surreptitiously taking down crosses like EVERYWHERE, probably Dewey Hill too, but that is a story for another day). I understood the intent there… but.

So let me spell it out for you.

You. Me. I. We. We all originated from some person who rode on a boat (many times against our will, see indentured servant on wikipedia) and we came here. We were running from all kinds of things. Famine, war, poverty, religious persecution, etc.

Where do we get off saying that no one else can come?That no one else can seek their fortunes in the red, white and blue toss of the dice that is America?

Tonight the president laid out very clear terms for people to “come out”. Five years or more spent here, were you born here? Do you have children who were? To me it seems like a clear cut deal. But our media of FEAR and HATE spins it a different way. “It’s a free pass” “It’s another reason to cross the border illegally” “Obama will protect you”.

This isn’t what is being said.

I am sick. So sick. Of the spin placed on everything. These poor, poor people who have no choice but to continue the waves pounding on the shore routine of EMERGENCIES and BREAKING NEWS.

I’m just so sick of it.

So yes, tonight OUR President invoked (sort of) scripture to reason with those of us who say that they want to live like Christ but who most assuredly do not welcome the stranger. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. (Because I’m sorry, but you tell me what else it all shakes down to).

It reminded me of a favorite post of mine from Momastery.  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/i-love-gay-people-and-christians-_b_3497785.html)

“You do not have to agree with me to love me.

“The point is – if you’re hungry – you are all welcome at my table. None of you is less welcome than the other. This place is a banquet table for gays and straights and prudes and hoochies and cheerleaders and tuba players and pharisees and alpha moms and slacker moms and tax collectors and fishermen and choir girls and heathens. It’s a banquet table where people who are different can come together and share a meal and maybe not change each other’s minds, but possibly soften each other’s hearts.

“Oh, yes…we can do that. We already have.

“So at this table, this Momastery table…. we talk to each other in soft voices, and we smile and we say, ‘pass the wine please,’ and we ask about each other’s children. Sometimes we even pass around some pictures. We share our families with each other. And we also share some of those magical laughs when we can’t speak and the tears are rolling and we’re gasping for breath and our stomachs hurt like we just did a hundred crunches. Maybe we even pee a little. And maybe in the middle of all that, we start knowing each other as people instead of categories/ And we accept that we are different, and we understand that each person’s choices are her own, and so we don’t have to be angry with each other. We are free to love each other.

“‘She told me that once she forgot herself and her heart opened up like a door with a loose latch and everything fell out and she tried for days to put it all back in the proper order, but she finally gave up and left it there in a pile, and loved everything equally'” (Brian Andreas)

Why is my family or life or livelihood or faith any more important than yours?

The simple answer is, it isn’t. Five million people. They have been given the choice to come forward, to supp at our table. To not be ashamed. Or deported. How many millions of us are fighting tooth and nail for what we have? I know that I am, we are. Daily. Hanging on by a slender thread. How am I different other than the lucky accident of my birth, the birth of my parents? This isn’t a free pass. It is a call. Come and see us, tell us all you know, all you have seen, that you want to stay and why.

I’ve been there. I’ve told you all I know. I’ve been welcomed and shunned, but mostly welcomed. So who am I to turn anyone away? If you identify as a Christian (wince), tell me what you believe, if it isn’t that you are called to love me? And if you are called to love me, where does it say, point it out for me (I can be a bit slow at times), where it says that your welcome is only for me.  

We belong to each other.


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