Sitting on our deck watching the early morning sunrise over Mt. Baker; Sitting on our deck, watching a harrier hawk swoop over the wind-blown, four-foot high grass in the six acres joining our back yard; Sitting on our deck, watching twenty-five deer peacefully graze in those same grassy fields; Sitting on our deck, watching a For Sale sign go up on that field; Sitting on our deck now visualizing a subdivision being developed in our back yard. Ugh!
It was then that I realized that I had become attached to our home, the view, the serenity of our deck. A little For Sale sign showed me that I am NOT in control of my life or even what I think is mine/ours. That little sign is more than an indicator of property for sale. It is a sign reminding me that life is much, much more than property, serene views and tranquil times sitting on our deck. A realtor’s For Sale sign was a catalyst to remind me that NOTHING in this life is really my possession, not even my life. All belongs to God.
Now to bigger issues: What I experienced on a personal level, even though insignificant in relation to world-wide dilemmas, is symbolic. I am wondering, I am pondering: is there a correlation between my thinking I am in control of my life, thinking that I am the owner of “my possessions” and what is happening on our Southern Border today? The writer of the book of James in the Bible says, “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts” (4:1-2b). We want and cannot get so we resort to violence. Greed, envy and covetousness permeate our society.
We have, we possess, we claim as our own so many rights and so many “things” which lead us to do everything in our power to protect our rights and our possessions from those whom we claim have no rights. We stand in fear of all those seeking asylum on our borders. Fear of losing what we think belongs to us motivates us to build walls, walls we think will protect us. Fear causes us to stereotype people who are running from violence and poverty and we call them drug pushers and rapists. Fear causes us to enact and enforce laws that we think will protect us from “them,” and fear causes us to ignore and be blind to laws that protect and assist the refugee. Fear is the by-product of the illusion of control, an illusion that leads to protectionism, nationalism and to violence as a means of protection.
When we yield to God our sense of “rights” and our sense of ownership of our possessions then we can be available to God to be used to meet the needs of others who have so little. When our “things,” our possessions no longer control us we have no need to act in violence toward others in the guise of protection. This type of surrender, of detachment from “things” will ultimately lead us toward FREEDOM, the freedom to love all people.
All the people who come to our borders are offering us the opportunity to experience such freedom, if we but hear their pleas as such. They offer us the opportunity to repent from being controlled by our possessions and living in fear. They offer to us the opportunity to give, to share, to love and to serve rather than to live in greed and covetousness. The women and men, the children and teenagers seeking a new life offer us the opportunity to be free from that which enslaves us, our illusion of control and the enslaving need to protect what we think belongs to us alone.