I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
“Can I talk to you for a minute? The Honorable Brit pulled me aside. The American flag flew behind us, in its place at the White House, yet the wrought iron gate ensured there was distance between us and the center of power. We were closer to the street and the masses of people. I was more comfortable with that anyways.
“Laura, you seem to have a bit of intelligence about you, tell me something. Are we really making a difference? Are people really listening to our stories?
A broad grin stretched across C’s face as he handed me the picture of his precious baby girl. Talk about a proud parent. I could tell he adored her, and missed her terribly. He hadn’t seen her or his wife in around seven months, but assured me that God was watching over them while they were back in El Salvador and he was here in the States. Times had been worse. “During the conflict, my wife was in school, studying around an hour away from her town. But the roads were too dangerous with all the guerrillas. So she had to take a small plane that flew over the roads to get back and forth to school. She did that for a year.”
We talked of Oscar Romero. I had deep admiration; C had a personal connection that led to feelings for the martyr that spoke to the profound nature of Romero’s sacrifice, and the preceding crucifixion from which the blood was being shared when Romero’s was spilled.
Power dynamics in executive meetings like this made me uncomfortable. I was from Wideawake Wilson, North Carolina; I didn’t understand the DC attitude. What was up with all this name dropping? I just wanted to change and put back on jeans and boots and go back to the fields, and the people I felt I could relate to. The guy that was currently under discussion had a confusing name to spell. Political hero or threat? Maybe simply rich and influential? I’d never heard of him. I was absorbed trying to figure out the order of the letters of his name when the Honorable Brit next to me leaned over and whispered to me, “He’s a dreadful German!”
The Honorable Brit was just as frustrated as I was, and was keeping me entertained with his jokes about all the American ego in the room.
Suddenly, I saw everyone looking our way. Game on. The postal and commercial workers were on hold for a minute, and it was time for the underdogs to take the platform. Our Brit was going to share his experiences witnessing a glimpse of the life of the migrant farm worker. He didn’t want for an elaborate introduction. He just stood up and let loose, waving his arms and raising his voice.
“I spoke with a young woman, with a babe in her arms, who is faced with the decision that if she wants work to feed her young child, her boss demands sexual favors. No favors, no work. I thought this was the land of milk and honey, but what I’ve seen these past few days…We wouldn’t treat a wild animal that way, or force them to live in such conditions…what happened to the land of the free?
Tears welled up in my eyes. I knew who he spoke of. She and I shared that pizza together at the Four Seasons, musing about love. He sat back down and looked at me, “Did I come on too strong? Was that okay?”
It was perfect, because every word was true.
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
L was aggravated. “Why should I trust you? Why are you here? I’ve been coming over for years to work in the fields, and nobody has so much as offered me a cup of water to drink. Why now? What’s different about you?”
Am I different? I’d have to think. I hope so. I pray so. But that’s what I’m here for. To live in that transformation that is constantly occurring within me. I’m here to give you that cup of water. The real water comes from God. It’s not my water. I can’t quench your endless thirst. I can’t solve the problems. I can’t give you grace and mercy and love in the fullness you long for, or heal the wounds of the past. But I will sit here and drink it with you. I’ll seek it with you. That’s the melody I want to walk through life with, the melody of new life, of relationship that transcends the borders and boundaries on this earth, the melody that proclaims the lion and the lamb are together. Maybe we could start that process now, maybe we could overcome the identities we’ve been assigned and just be here in this moment, together. Perhaps I could even wash your feet one day. Will you walk with me?
And all around me a voice was sounding
The tears from the previous years are smoothed away, until the new creation is complete.
This land was made for you and me
There’s a story that has been told for a long time and is still told today, if we only stop to listen. It starts like this:
The fields are filled with prophetic voices, and ripe with dreams of a promised land. The dreams need to be seen and the voices heard, because they call us closer to Christ and to another. There’s a kingdom I’ve seen some glimpses of, but that hasn’t fully come yet, it’s the Kingdom of God that we are all invited into. You aren’t invited in as a slave, but you’re ushered in as a daughter or a son. You never have to walk the fields alone.
Laura Bardin is a junior at Furman University majoring in religion with a minor in Poverty Studies. Passionate about the intersection of faith and immigration, Laura gives thanks for all the men, women, and children who have shown her the faces of God.
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