by Beth Kelly
The term “border” puzzled me as a child. Every map had a hard black line on it, and I fully expected to see exactly such a line on the earth. Not so. Looking from home and heart I never really knew where the border was, but the discovery came when I crossed it. I began to notice that when I crossed a border, people showed up either upset or happy or at least with announcement (“we’re in Oregon now”). I can’t hear the border, I can’t taste the border, and I really can’t feel the border, but this invisible boundary reveals itself when I cross it…where ever that is. This is true of most borders between states and even between countries. Except, the U.S. now does have a very definite tangible border fence with Mexico. A very significant fence that makes a border you can feel, smell, see. And there are calm alert men with guns that you will meet at this border.
Last December I was having lunch with another priest, Jennifer Hughes, and Bp Diane Bruce. My heart was strangely moved when Jennifer said she felt ‘called to the wall’. She felt a call to go to the wall between U.S. and Mexico and pray with Jesus. This call has grown into what is now a pilgrim’s event to the border. My childish fascination with borders drew me into being one of the planners for this Diocesan event being held Monday of Holy Week at the border of U.S. and Mexico. As I’ve been involved with this “call” I am seeing borders and Jesus very differently.
Jesus always meets us at the border. Jesus meets us at the border of life and death, life and love, as far as I can tell he is there at all of the borders of life. Every important decision we make is a border we cross into new territory. Life is never the same. Inevitably we go deep across the border and we’re soon speaking a new language. Getting married is a border and leads us into a new language of love and forgiveness. Having a child certainly is also. Choices for college, new careers, decision for retirement, all borders. Even crossing the threshold of a new church. All borders. Others are always there on the other side. I do so hope they are friendly. A different life will be had. If we are attentive, we quickly learn that spiritual borders are frequent. Borders just “are” and Jesus is there. I like to have a Word with Him when I arrive at any border.
In this prayerful event to be held at our national border, I recognize this border is an immense symbol of the dark sides of our expression of immigration. I also recognize that Jesus ‘immigrated’ from heaven to earth. I wonder if he left his homeland to make a better life for himself by knowing his journey would draw us back all together. I then wonder how Jesus’ homeland changed because of his immigration; surely we did. Like some immigrants, did he risk dying and die for the sake seeking a better life? It seems he was seeking a better life for all of us.
These are just the beginnings of what comes up in my prayers since bringing borders into my spiritual life. This Easter as we celebrate that Jesus crossed the border of death, and, in fact, a way was made for us over that border. Please offer prayer for everyone involved with our southern border. Pray for peace. Pray for wisdom.
The Rev. Beth Kelly is the Rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Fullerton, CA. She has been featured in the books, “Divine Daughters”, and “You Can Do It.” Her sermons can be found on Internet Archive. She also is the first female Episcopal priest to have private audience with the pope. She has been a priest for 25 years.