The last Thursday of each month the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice sponsors a vigil at the ICE building. It was cold, wet and rainy yesterday in contrast to the July photo in the header.
Havurah Shalom, a Jewish congregation and IMIRJ member, led the reflection remembering the stranger. Each of us was asked to turn to another person and to answer two questions:
When did I/you feel unwelcome?
When did you/I feel welcomed OR How do I welcome the stranger or newcomer?
I shared with a tall man, a member of Havurah. I recalled at age 10 when I was new to a Portland school how lonely I felt. I remember sitting on a staircase by myself eating my lunch and wondering if I would ever be accepted into the group. My new friend talked about a California synagogue which was not warm and welcoming - he and his wife felt like outsiders.
Both of us had lived and worked in Latin America so our answers to the second question was how warmly we were received by Guatemalans and Colombians.
How do we show the same warm welcome to immigrants and other people new to our City? How would you answer this question?
Several people had signs expressing their commitment to stopping deportations.
We marched from the shelter to form a circle at the entrance to ICE. Rabbi Benjamin led us in songs in Hebrew and English. Several times a security guard approached the group to ask them to move away from the driveway as cars and trucks enter and leave. Rabbi Benjamin asked us to silently reflect on what goes on in the ICE building.
At the end of our time together, another moment of silence in which we lifted up people we knew in detention. I thought of my three women friends from Mexico, Argentina and Nicaragua (11/28/17 blog)- and then we sang these beautiful words from Wings of Peace:
Please join us on December 28, 2017 at 10AM outside the ICE building in Portland, Oregon or join an ICE vigil wherever you live.
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?