Pratik Dash, campaign organizer for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, highlights the resilience of Tennessee's immigrant community in light of the 2016 U.S. election.
Sebastiao Salgado is a Brazilian photographer and photojournalist who has spent his life documenting the faces of migrants and sojourners across the world. Read this poem by Jan Bowman and reflect on how you see "our humanity on the move."
by Jan Bowman
He won't let us forget
those we've forgotten—
or would like to forget—
the migratory kind
who've lost their feathers
to war or drought or disaster
of any kind. Though innocent—
seldom guilty—they're caught.
He frames them
in the act
one plastic pail
fifty thirsty children
Serbs, Guatemalans, Kurds
Russians in the U.S.A.
Palestinians in Lebanon
a girl, about twelve, holding her father's photo
in Afghanistan, her face as stolid
as the mud-plastered wall behind her
three small boys from Rwanda
clutching a gray wool blanket
eyes as huge as their fear—and one tear escaping
Vietnamese, Angolans, Moroccans
my people in your country
your people in mine
He photographs our humanity
on the move.
Poem from Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life, Vol. XXI, No. 4 (July/August 2006)(Nashville, TN: The Upper Room: 2005), 24.
This excerpt by Dorothy Day explores what it means to treat every stranger as Christ. Read, then ask yourself the questions below to discern what course of action you can take to open the door to unlikely strangers.
"Some time ago I saw the death notice of a sergeant-pilot who had been killed on active service. After the usual information, a message was added which, I imagine, is likely to be imitated. It said that anyone who had ever known the dead boy would always be sure of a welcome at his parents' home. So, even now that the war is over, the father and mother will go on taking in strangers for the simple reason that they will be reminded of their dead son by the friends he made.
That is rather like the custom that existed among the first generations of Christians, when faith was a bright fire that warmed more than those who kept it burning. In every house then, a room was kept ready for any stranger who might ask for shelter; it was even called 'the stranger's room'; and this not because these people, like the parents of the dead airman, thought they could trace something of someone they loved in the stranger who used it, not because the man or woman to whom they gave shelter reminded them of Christ, but because—plain and simple and stupendous fact—he was Christ.
It would be foolish to pretend that it is always easy to remember this. If everyone were holy and handsome, with 'alter Christus' shining in neon lighting from them, it would be easy to see Christ in everyone. If Mary had appeared in Bethlehem clothed, as St. John says, with the sun, a crown of twelve stars on her head, and the moon under her feet, then people would have fought to make room for her. But that was not God's way for her, nor is it Christ's way for Himself, now when He is disguised under every type of humanity that treads the earth."
Take some time now to discern how you will act to welcome the stranger in your life.
Above excerpt from Dorothy Day: Selected Writings edited by Robert Ellsberg. Copyright © 1983, 1992, 2005 by Robert Ellsberg and Tamar Hennessey. Published in 2005 by Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York 10545.