It takes a lot to disrupt my Sabbath day on Tuesdays. It’s often my writing day and always my lazy day after a long week. I know what it costs the rest of the week and the people in my life when I don’t have just a little time to put down all I have been about and to just be on this day.
Although I often forget it, I’m often reminded that it’s a privilege to have such a day of rest. A privilege that so many don’t get as they struggle day in and day out just to get by. I was reminded of that this week.
It was early Tuesday morning when I saw the newsfeed: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Ends DACA (Differed Action for Child Arrivals). That little newsfeed disrupted my anticipated peace and rest of the day and sent me out to join a small rally at El Centro de la Raza who had gathered to respond to the news.
I knew if I didn’t go, I’d regret it but I wasn’t sure even on my way there why I was going. Was I going there with my pastor hat on and serving as a representative of our church that had recently voted to become a sanctuary congregation? Was I going to join a protest and chant and sing? Was I going to strategize and network with colleagues and friends? It wasn’t until I came out on the little square and stood on the sidelines that I discovered why I’d come. I’d come here to cry and the tears come again now in the remembering.
I don’t know all they’re about as I often don’t know with my tears. What I do know is that years ago, Dave and I took in a young man named Pedro who had just aged out of foster care and was seeking political asylum. The social worker dropped him off with suggestions about registering him for public school and a blessing of “good luck.” He was with us for two years. During that time he got through 9th and 10th grades. He learned English and math, played lots of soccer. Pedro didn’t meet the strict criteria of DACA when President Obama began that important program. I forget now just how many months it was that made Pedro ineligible. I remember grieving that, grieve it still for Pedro’s story is the story of countless children refugees – a dangerous journey across desert, here vulnerable, strong and alone. Stories that he told us surrounded by deep silences and hurt.
I talked with Pedro on Sunday as the floodwaters were rising in Houston. They had an inch and a half of water in his apartment. He told me that he and his roommate were staying on their beds to keep dry. Then the phone went dead like all the other millions of phones went dead in Houston without power. It wasn’t until a week ago, last Saturday, that I finally heard from him again. He was safe. The water rose to the windowsills and they found refuge at a friend’s apartment. This week, they moved back into their apartment and began the long slow work of recovery.
Pedro has no insurance. FEMA is not going to help him. He doesn’t have a job with a guaranteed income or vacation days. And it’s the Pedro’s of the world who will rebuild Houston as they will in weeks to come rebuild Florida and wherever the next hurricane comes. The Pedro’s of the world will do the work without any labor laws or protections, without any guaranteed minimum wage, without any guarantee that they will get paid.
For all that DACA does not do for children and their families, DACA does provide a breathing space, a breathing room, the privilege of having a little less disruption in lives that have born so much disruption. It gives a little respite from having to be so constantly preoccupied with being deported, upheaved from your life and family and offers the hope of being able to go to school, go to college and get a job as so many DACA recipients have.
Yes, it takes a lot to disrupt my one day when I have the privilege of not being disrupted. And because of my personal relationship with Pedro I know the difference a little less disruption can make for people who live in the cracks of our society’s care. DACA helps provide a little assurance of stability, a little ground to stand on, a little ability to look forward and around. DACA makes hope possible again.
I know the difference DACA would have made to Pedro. I know the difference it would make to millions like him. I cry for him, for my dreams of what could have been for him and our government’s unwillingness to do some small things that would be a little ground for hope.
Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, said at the rally on Tuesday, “In all of the dark days we have seen, there is none darker than today.” Perhaps he’s right – it’s the darkness that comes when we had lit a little candle of hope and then by choice blow it out.
In my tears of today is my passion for tomorrow. To relight the small candle of hope and keep it burning bright.