Migration back to Latin American nations outpaces illegal immigration from those countries into the U.S. However, the U.S. still does not have a comprehensive or adequate policy of immigration. In Europe, a convenient arrangement has been reached with Turkey to bring order to the flow of refugees to the European Union, yet it will likely bring only misery to desperate people. With recent terror attacks in Belgium and Paris, multiple E.U. states have closed their borders — a metaphorical wall like the physical wall that some politicians call for between the U.S. and Mexico.
No question, migration issues are huge across the globe, affecting those on the move, those in the places they enter, and those left behind at home. The dynamics are complex. So are the answers. Robert Frost’s poem “The Mending Wall” calls all of us, whether religious or not, to pay attention at a deeper level to the cost of walls upon our humanity. It seems a good place to begin contemplating fresh responses:
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
At Pilgrim Church and across the globe, Christians in the Western tradition (predominantly Catholic and Protestant) reentered the story of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection during Holy Week. (The Eastern Orthodox Church will celebrate later this spring.) Our Palm Sunday service marked Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem but also moved us into the events of the week that led up to Thursday. Children and adults re-told the happenings of Maundy Thursday and shared communion with one another in an intimate, quiet service. On Good Friday we joined with choirs and worshipers from Peace UCC and Glen Avon Presbyterian churches to solemnly mark the crucifixion; this beautiful service can be viewed on Pilgrim’s YouTube channel. And on Easter Sunday, we sang and laughed and embraced the power of resurrection together (this service will soon be posted on YouTube as well).
We observe all these “extra” liturgies (and remember that liturgy literally means, the work of the people) so that Easter and resurrection will resonate more deeply within us. Like most life experiences, we do not get more out of it than we are willing to put into it. The poet Wendell Berry captures the work of getting to resurrection as observed in nature’s springtime. May it bless you, especially when you find yourself in the midst of the hard work:
What hard travail God does in death! / He strives in sleep, in our despair, / And all flesh shudders underneath / The nightmare of His sepulcher.
The earth shakes, grinding its deep stone; / All night the cold wind heaves and pries; / Creation strains sinew and bone / Against the dark door where He lies.
The stem bent, pent in seed, grows straight / And stands. Pain breaks in song. Surprising / The merely dead, graves fill with light / Like opened eyes. He rests in rising.