by Anton Flores-Maisonet
Life is one long journey. Along the way we encounter unexpected turns and moments when we wish we could just turn around but can’t. The journey can be harsh and unforgiving, but it can also be our source of freedom, hope, and love. This past week we hosted four women, each on a long journey.
Victoria entered Casa Alterna, separated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from her father and 13 year old brother. Barely an adult herself, Victoria faced the cruelty of immigration detention alone, yet, what she found inside the detention center was something that bars of steel and profiteers of pain can’t take away – a faith that liberates. Victoria didn’t understand why guards would do “count” as often as they did but it didn’t matter because to her and many of the women in her unit, count became a call to prayer, and those prayers upheld Victoria and so many others who faced the uncertainty of seeking asylum while detained without due process. For Victoria, life has been a long journey but she’s found a faith that makes her free.
We welcomed Darlene into our simple space of hospitality. Darlene said she made the hard decision to leave her two children in Central America so as to best provide for them. She traversed northward often hidden inside the trailer of an eighteen wheeler crammed inside with scores of other migrants on a hard journey. Darlene had to learn how to sleep standing up inside that mobile cramp space. Sometimes the air was so stifling she feared she’d suffocate. Darlene doesn’t know what route she traveled through Mexico because she often went days without seeing the world outside the dark trailer. Fasting became less of a spiritual discipline and more of a tactic so as to avoid having to use a makeshift toilet that never flushed human waste away and was in plain view of others inside the trailer. For Darlene, life has been a long journey anchored in the hope that her children will someday have a better life.
And then there was a mother and daughter duo, both named Ana. The two Anas left Central America with $13 in their pockets. Guided by the GPS on their only phone, the Anas sojourned over 2,300 miles with an unwavering confidence in a God who would never abandon them. In a world filled with cynical minds and sinister motives, these two women sought to trust in the better nature and generosity of strangers. From simple meals to a place to sleep and all their daily necessities; the two Anas walked on. Like Ruth and Naomi, these two demonstrated an unshakeable bond that pledged to one another, “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried.” For the two Anas, life has been a long journey guided by a love that never walks alone.
Yes, life is one long journey. A fork in the road can be fraught with uncertainty but it’s also an invitation to freedom. Every heartbreaking setback can also be a harbinger of hope. And every time someone carries our load, we remember that both the topography and the destination of our journey are one in the same – love.
photo credit: rawpixel.com