God's caravan

Stella stood in the doorway this morning, looking not so much sad as heart broken. Her new friend, Camila, a 14 year old asylum seeker and her father, stayed with us and left before daybreak. They became fast friends over the last two days, with no common language other than braiding hair and dancing dolls and playing chase around makeshift cots. And yet, her traveling friend said, “I feel like we’ve been sisters forever.” God knows the sisters she has lost. God knows the horrors of a traveling caravan.

After Stella’s tears dried on my shoulder, we read about the Son of Man, one with the hungry, thirsty, and shelterless, coming to the privileged in suffering. I realized anew what I’ve heard a few times now - we may give food and shelter to the poor and sojourning, but they give us God himself. Jesus said, “As you’ve done to the least of my brothers and sisters, you’ve done to me.” Stella kept saying, “I miss my friend.” And Camila was a friend. Her friendship, her love, was born out of being a Guatemalan refugee, being a little girl who knows untold suffering. What I came to realize is she was the Son of Man who came to bless the world, to bless Stella, to bless my home, and that blessing could only come by egregious suffering.

The Lord’s prayer starts in the same way as our traveling friend’s caravan - as a border crossing of the Holy One into our strange land. Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus teaches us to not only receive God’s caravan into the secure borders of our lives, but to request it; and as the prayer goes we know there will be opposition to the safe passage of Christ’s kingdom. And we know the impulse of divine migration is the greatest power in the world - the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the bread of suffering - even when it threatens our sense of security. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive our sins, and deliver us from evil. God’s caravan came in Christ himself to soften our hearts to the forgiveness we need and to soften our hearts toward those in need. He did this by becoming like Camila, having no place to lay his head, except with those whose fearful hearts have been softened. And I was fearful. But Stella was not. She saw in Camila’s eyes a friend, and received her immediately. She saw in Camila the Son of Man, and received God’s caravan.

Andrew Stravitz