Like many I am often still feeling lost in this brave new world we find ourselves in. These past few weeks more than a thousand people have Illegally crossed the Vermont border into Quebec to escape our country’s immigration authorities.”But they are illegals!” exclaim some I know. Yes, I suspect many were but I also suspect few are the kinds of people who were actually making our country unsafe.
In Vermont, as in many other states, many of the illegal immigrants are here working on farms, doing work that others will no longer do—hard work, brutal hours, often at low pay, and, importantly, always requiring they keep in the shadows: fearful of driving to the grocery store or doctor, wiring money home only at great expense, unable to easily have their children in school. They are not here because they want to be, they are here because the alternatives are even worse.
I don’t deny some want to lash out at the world with terror. I suspect they are often driven by unimaginable pain, fear and anger and are easily manipulated by others who are simply psychologically damaged. Living in terror is not normal even if it has become all too common in a world where fewer than 100 people own more than the poorest half of our fellow human beings.
Imagine living without knowing where your next meal will come from or worrying that your child will die because simple medical help is not available. Imagine carrying every drop of water you use from sources that are miles away or imagine working harder than seems humanly possible for endless hours and then years, always in dangerous conditions. In fact, this is the state of terror in which many of our fellow humans live and, understandably, want to escape. In my life of privilege this reality is challenging to truly understand.
I’ve been wandering these past few weeks, trying to find my way back to what I know is important in life. It is so easy to try to ignore the threats, to simply be angry when I wake every morning; it is much more challenging to find ways to make a difference.
I spent much of yesterday on snowshoes wandering wherever my spirit led me: through a couple of feet of beautiful snow, in and out of the bright sunshine and contrasting shadows of trees, marvelling at the infinite variety of lichen-covered bark, soaking up the quietness—in short enjoying the “normal” world. Of course, my thoughts often returned to the people crossing in panic into Canada through the same deep snow.
I thought how I’d love to get the President on snowshoes and show him some of the trees I found—White Pines and Hemlocks in particular—that are more than twice as old as I, good reminders of what is not false, of what is normal, of what is truly important in a world where sometimes we wander from reality. Yes, I wandered a bit and eventually I believe I found my way home to what is real.