Reflections from Love Has No Borders
From the interfaith service on 12/9/18—Mr. Sayed, speaking for the Islamic Center of San Diego, reminded us that we were all there as our “witness to the dreams and aspirations of those seeking refuge in this land.”
He said, “Dear God, we know your love has no borders…your compassion is not exclusive, you embrace all and so do we.”
December 10 was the 70th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It made our being in that space on a stretch of sandy beach and wild waves-- facing off to a corridor of militarized border police and a wall built from power that is only meant to separate and divide-- so much more impactful. Nowhere in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does it talk about such walls, such fear and such privilege. I felt so good all the way deep inside about why and how we were there. I felt like we were following the call with which we had been blessed to go forth. The evening before at the interfaith service, Bishop Minerva Carcaño blessed us all in the spirit of an 11 year old unaccompanied migrant child who died just after he crossed the border. His identity was unknown until the coroner discovered a note taped inside his tiny belt. In that note it said who he was and where he was to go. Mixed into that note I envisioned the tears and pain of that child’s mother lovingly taping it into his clothing as she was forced to send him far away to a safer place--far from her fears about what was likely to be his fate had he stayed in Honduras. That thought—about that child who died and the grief of his mother has stayed with me.
In that blessing, Bishop Carcaño said that, for this child that tiny note told of his identity and where his mother dreamed he would finally arrive. She concluded by asking us, “To whom do you belong and where are you going.” And she answered, “ We belong to love, a love that knows no borders. To a love that will be big enough to heal this broken world.”
I felt like, as we walked silently across that beach, we all knew the answers to those questions—our message of love has no borders was literally a line clear in the sand.
The Universal Declarations of Human Rights begins,
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable
rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice
and peace in the world…
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous
acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world
in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom
from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common
Article 3—Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
Article 14-- Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
As we walked south across the beach, we approached a corridor of armed Border Patrol, and behind them the now famous concertina wire and behind that, the tall border wall. Above in the sky, flocks of birds flew freely across that harsh human made barrier. We could see people gathered at the Mexican side of the wall, but there was no way to touch or talk to them with the stretch of “no-person’s land” that the CBP has created—concertina wire, then a forbidden stretch of barren sand, then the wall.
The fortified border looked pretty impenetrable to me, but I was struck by what one of the people we met in a tent encampment in Tijuana on Sunday told me. He said, “There will be walls and people who are desperate will find a way to get around them. We will get under then, over them or through them. ” This man is living in an encampment in Tijuana that is just a few yards from the wall. It is an encampment of about 150-200 people who were recently deported from the U.S. It was again harsh and powerful for me as I realized I was seeing the outcome of the process we all work so hard to stop here in our local communities. These are our neighbors who were arrested by ICE right here, sent to detention centers such as in Tacoma, WA, and then deported. In the case of this man, with whom I just happened to be talking that day, he had lived 18 years in Bend, OR. He has a family in Bend and had worked that entire time in a car wash. He told me about his children and wife left behind. His life was in Bend, not in Tijuana or in his impoverished village in Michoacán. In fact he told me he had been financially supporting, not just his immediate family in Bend, OR, but also family members in Mexico.
When I asked him what he plans to do now—would be go south to where he was born, in Michoacán? No, he said, that was no longer his home. Oregon is his home. He planned to stay near the border in Tijuana and look for work—maybe at a car wash. And, I wondered if he just might try to get back to his Bend family. I only had a few minutes to talk with him before we left, I wished him well and promised we would all work with all our might to tear down this wall.
I appreciated and cherished all in the Oregon delegation as we traversed our way together in our common goal. The demands we all carried are simple and straightforward and aligned with all that we hold dear and sacred. End the militarization of our border, allow all who come to be given their inalienable right to seek asylum, an end to the impunity of ICE in all our communities.
Another moment that I take away from the short time I was there was the part of the interfaith service that marked the eighth and final night of Chanukah. Rabbi Brant Rosen led us to bless the lighting of the menorah—the night of the brightest light that proclaims the power of miracles. Rabbi Rosen ended with his version of the Chanukah blessing, Hanerot Hallelu:
We light these lights
for the instigators and the refusers
the obstinate and unyielding
for the ones who kept marching
The sojourners and the border-crossers
the ones who tended the fires
the ones would not bow down.
We light these lights
for the sparks that guide us on
through the gentle night
for the darkness that swaddles us
in its soft embrace until the moment
we inevitably emerge
Into life anew
into life renewed.
We light these lights
for the spirit of resilience that remains
after our strength has ebbed away
for the steadfast knowledge even as
The lines are drawn
The doors are slammed shut
The walls soar higher
That the impunity of the powerful
cannot last forever.
These lights we light tonight
will never be used for any other purpose
but to proclaim the miracle
of this truth:
it is not by might nor by cruelty
but by a love that burns relentlessly
that this broken world
will be redeemed. –Brant Rosen