An initiation

117080589_10157619881687379_57698875694796554_nOne thing I used to do a lot with women friends was devise ceremonies for particular occasions, focused on individuals, that seemed to call for a little extra spiritual oomph. I have recently resumed that practice, and yesterday was a beauty.

We Protestants tend to be ceremony-shy, limiting our rites and rituals to big occasions such as weddings, funerals, and baptisms. But over the years, I have helped design and execute, or been the recipient of, rite-of-passage ceremonies marking such things as the completion of a thesis, imminent motherhood, a job change involving a new set of skills, a divorce, or a girl’s entry into puberty. Continue reading

Racism and poison ivy

During the pandemic of Covid-19 I have had a lot of time to think and read. I have also had a lot of time to spend in my garden.

When I am tired of thinking and reading, I am happy to go out into my big landscape garden and pull weeds. Since it is newly planted it has a lot of weeds. I do this in the morning before it gets hot. This takes up any morning energy I might have for writing, so, as a result, I haven’t been blogging recently–which is just as well, because with all that is happening I feel like I have nothing to say, nothing at all to add.

I really felt I had nothing unique to say about that other pandemic of racism and police violence that has captured our national awareness in the last several weeks on top of, because of, along with Covid-19. Could this at last be a transformative moment? Can the biggest mass movement this nation has ever experienced be sustained? How will that happen?

It was just too much to contemplate. And then poison ivy showed up and became my teacher. Continue reading

A new normal

The first stay-home directives I remember came with a date that seemed impossibly far away. Three whole weeks! That date was today, April 4. Now the orders, or certainly our intentions, stretch into the unknown future. Staying at home has become the new normal.

As the first-hand reports come in from the front lines, this order does not seem burdensome. Continue reading

Yesterday and today

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in its petty pace from day to day.

Yesterday I taught Ben how to bake bread. He is now in favor of baking all our bread, just as the stores are running out of flour.

Yesterday I made masks for the family, custom fitted to each of our shnozzes. Vic’s was a challenge. They may reassure our neighbors that we won’t cough on them, but I doubt we’ll wear them on walks unless we get The Directive. Continue reading

This was the week that was

On Monday at Chicago Midway airport we greeted “Ben,” the long-awaited asylum seeker we’re sponsoring, wrested from detention after more than four months. It was in the nick of time. That center near El Paso was being emptied out in preparation for a whole new batch of refugees coming across the border from Mexico. Hundreds of the previous detainees were being sent to other centers around the country. A few were being paroled. Ben got bonded parole.

Phew. He’s here. Just in time for Covid-19. Continue reading

Good news

Kate Atkinson, one of my favorite writers, wrote a novel called When Will There Be Good News? I don’t remember what the novel was about but the title has been on my mind a lot, as we have waited for Ben to be paroled as well as during the slog through what has to be (Good Lord we pray!) the last year of Trump.

Short answer: Monday, March 2. Good news came on Monday. Continue reading

A letter from prison

“Ben,” the African asylum-seeker whom we are sponsoring, has now been in detention in New Mexico for four months, waiting to be paroled or bonded out. As I’ve written before, he is part a cohort of a dozen or so Africans who came through Mexico and arrived at the border at about the same time—and the last one still in deteIMG_4068ntion.

We’ve been talking regularly on the phone these four months. He calls us Mom and Dad in the African way (he’s actually about the age of our children). We’ve written letters, too. Sometimes it’s easier for Ben, who is a journalist, to express his feelings in writing. The one that came yesterday struck me profoundly. He gave me permission to share it. Continue reading

The state of waiting

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write yet another “waiting” post. I was hoping that something would shake loose and “Ben” would follow his friends into freedom. Failing that, I was hoping I would be able to turn my creative energies in other directions to so that I would find something totally different to write about.

Neither has happened, although something could happen any minute. See, that is the problem: the expectation that something could happen any minute. Not good. Continue reading

ICE breaking?

Last Thursday afternoon, hours after I’d posted the latest update, word came that one of our three asylum seekers in detention had just been released on bond. “Our”refers to the two other South Bend couples and ourselves, sponsors-in-waiting for three African asylum seekers who have made much of the journey thus far together and have been in a detention facility on this side of the Mexican border since October. Continue reading