DEEPER WELLS… This Week at UCCW
Mural at the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead
Time flies when you’re having fun!
This time last year, I was on an immersion trip for spiritual leaders at the U.S.-Mexico border. We partnered with Centro Romero, a UCC-affiliated organization in San Ysidro, CA (near San Diego) that works with refugees and migrants in Tijuana.
A year later, my strongest memory is getting to meet the women of Colectivo Chilpancingo, an environmental justice and workers’ rights organization in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tijuana. For decades, these women have organized for better working conditions and better pay for workers in the maquiladoras, the factories perched on the hill above the city – most of which are owned by foreign (including U.S.) corporations. The Colectivo has worked to clean up the Rio Alamar, which has been poisoned for years by unregulated runoff from the factories, and they’ve won significant victories against both the corporations and the Mexican government. Viva!
Seeing these women, who were so humble and yet so fierce in their dedication to justice for the earth and their fellow-workers, inspired me beyond words. Going into our immersion, one of my fellow participants asked the question, “Where is God at the border?” In the Colectivo’s determination, and their faith in the power of people to come together and fight for justice, I caught a glimpse of the God who calls us to that work and empowers us to carry it out, the God who crosses all borders and desires a more just, more compassionate world for all Her creatures.
I wrote the falling poem in honor of those inspiring women. May we all find the deep-down, green-rooted strength to live into God’s Beloved Community, welcoming the stranger and the refugee with open arms and open hearts.
BY THE WATERS OF RIO ALAMAR
she lies down and weeps, stinging
leaden tears. She lifts up her eyes
to the hills from whence cometh
her affliction, where Babylon
grins with factory teeth. The trees
where she hangs her weary harp
smile back, defiant in their
green vulnerability. In Alta California
I have seen albino redwoods,
absurd creations, small
and white like plastic
cheap Christmas trees.
Unlike most redwoods, they can’t
photosynthesize—but they can
turn lead to gold, leaching heavy metals
from the soil so their neighbors
can live. These cottonwoods
are lusher but no less
psalms of transmutation
and a mother’s hope: you too, little
dear one, are alchemy. You too
can summon strength from the depths
and purify. The rivers run
oil and sick in Babylon, but have faith: there are
the poison cannot touch.
QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: What (or who) are your sources of strength in times of difficulty? How can we support one another in building Beloved Community for all God’s creatures?