I’ve been thinking a lot about borders, current events being what they are.
At a Rio Grande summit last month where I served as the interpreter, someone made the simple but profound observation that you cannot see the border in the river. The image gripped me.
It got me to thinking about water and baptism and new life and how we all have borders in our lives because change is one of those inevitable things, like death, taxes and the pull of gravity on body parts.
I don’t know about you, but when I plan a journey I start with the destination and work backwards. If there is no To, there can be no From, and I find myself forever parked at the starting line, wondering where to set my sails.*
Of course, most of my journeys happen without planning. I pin my hopes or expectations or fears on a distant point and somewhere along the way realize that I’m headed there, gathering experiences (and pounds and wrinkles) as I go. Somewhere along the way, I reach a border between what was and what will be.
The thing is, whether the journey is planned or (more commonly) accidental, I tend to forget that after reaching the border, after I rest and take a breath, I will inevitably – there’s that word again – head for yet another border. Another invisible line between what was and is, and what will be.
And while I may not see it, the experience is always a baptism. Each border always brings a death and rebirth of sorts.
I think about things that drive people from their physical homes and homelands, and those that drive us from our metaphorical ones.
I think about the fears, dreams, or needs that push and pull us into the journey and how they trigger fear or hope in others along the way, others who are then pushed or pulled into their own journeys, carried to their own borders, facing their own invisible lines.
And in the crisscross of our paths and borderlines, I find sketched the face of our common humanity.
So here’s my prayer for 2019: whether we look at the exhausted faces of refugees fleeing conditions most of us cannot imagine, or the careworn faces of our neighbors whose struggles we cannot see, may we all extend a little mercy and remember the grace we have been given.
*Metaphors may be unapologetically mixed, shaken or stirred this New Year’s Day.
© 2019 Carol Shaw