The Footsteps of the Poor
Along the U.S. border with Mexico, a wall has been built. Deadlock over immigration gives rise to a high corrugated metal barrier that separates communities. On the U.S. side, little is said. The wall is blank and silent. Heat sensors and motion detectors keep people away. On the Mexican side, the metal surface is slowly being covered with drawings, names, epitaphs, slogans, sculpture, and murals. It is a memorial, a place of prayer, prophecy, and protest. Vivid images transform its stony gaze.
In piercing words, Isaiah warns the lofty city that ignores the poor streaming past its gates. That city will fall. John Steinbeck echoed Isaiah in describing the farmers who lost their land during the great depression and took to the highways in search of work. Economic forces tore through their lives like the tractors that knocked over their barns and houses, leaving behind big commercial operations without need for farm families. For Steinbeck, a society that pushes the poor into boxcars and shanty towns faces the wrath of judgment.
Economic forces are tearing round the world. Old ways of life are swept away by another kind of tsunami. Villages empty out as young people leave in search of work. Families break apart. Walls are built but cannot keep people safe from upheavals and trouble. We are connected in spite of mistrust or indifference. We will only make our way across this desert together.
Jesus calls us to build our lives on His lasting presence. When we hear the stories or see the faces, we have been told. It is time to take down the walls.
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