Sunday, February 5, 2017

Dr. Steve Joel, Superintendent *Lincoln Nebraska Public Schools
February 2, 2017

I am writing this on February 5 and the immigration issue is worsening by the  moment. Dr. Joel's message in the video above is one sign of hope and encouragement--would that all our schools were so  morally centered. How we invite and assimilate refugees into our society is a daunting task but that we welcome the stranger should never be in question. I am heartened by voices I hear from widely divergent citizens in our country--voices that keep us in touch with our humanity and open the wells of compassion. May their tribes increase--our very lives depend on it.

*The first English Language Learner program for refugees and other immigrants began in 1986 with 118 students. Today Lincoln Public Schools serve  2,970 students from 114 countries who speak and collectively they speak 100 languages. Lincoln residents are justifiably proud of the welcoming spirit and life skills our schools give to our new neighbors and friends. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Refugees
Into the wild and painful cold of the starless winter night
came the refugees, slowly making their way to the border.
The man, stooped from age or anxiety,
hurried his small family through the wind.
Bearded and dark, his skin rough and cracked from the cold,
his frame looming large in spite of the slumped shoulders;
He looked like a man who could take care of whatever
came at them. . .
from the dark.
Unless of course there were too many of them,
One man he could handle, two, even. . . .but a border patrol, . . .
they wouldn’t have a chance.
His eyes, black and alert,
darted from side to side, then over his shoulder,
then back again forward.
Had they been seen?
Had they been heard?
Every rustle of the wind, every sigh from the child,
sent terror though his chest.
Was this the way?
Even the stars had been unkind—
had hidden themselves in the ink of night
so that the man could not read their way,
Only the wind. . . . was it enough?
Only the wind and his innate sense of direction. . .
What kind of cruel judgement that would be,
to wander in circles through the night?
Or to safely make their way to the border,
only to find the authorities waiting for them?
He glanced at the young woman, his bride.
No more than a child herself,
she nuzzled the newborn, kissing his neck.
she looked up caught his eye and smiled.
Oh how the homelessness had taken its toll on her!
Her eyes were red, Her young face was lined,
her lovely hair matted from inattention.
her clothes stained from milk and baby,
her hands chapped from the raw wind of winter.
She’d hardly had time to recover from childbirth
when word had come that they were hunted,
and they fled with only a little bread,
and the remaining wine,
and a very small portion of cheese.
Suddenly, the child began to make small noises,
the man drew his bread in sharply:
the woman quietly put the child to breast.
Fear . . . .long dread-filled moments . . . .
Huddled the family stood still in the long silence.
At last the man breathed deeply again,
reassured they had not been heard.
and into the night continued
Mary, Joseph and the Babe.

Ann Weems