“The Stranger Among You”

[Landscaping, Somerville, MA Style, 2016 ]

I live in Somerville, a sanctuary city, and my faith community is located in Cambridge, another sanctuary city. As the xenophobia in this country becomes ever more vicious, I’ve been been examining what this dual citizenship means. Not in terms of my sense of public safety* or, god forbid, to feel smug or politically correct or content; heck, no. But day to day, standing in line at the post office or hearing voices outside my window speak languages I can’t even name, what does it feel like to live into “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”? (Leviticus 19:33-34 ESV**)

It’s a spiritual practice. It’s a moment by moment interaction with The Stranger(s) and to pay attention to what that interaction calls up for me. (Lately? Mostly? Incredible sadness.) To daily encounter brown-skinned people, ever more stressed and scared—living in a sanctuary city isn’t a stress-free guarantee—is to perpetually pray: what am I called to do? (Write this for starters!)

It’s to connect with that “For you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” bit. To know with certainty, with deep and abiding understanding, that The Stranger’s backstory is, in some fundamental way, my own backstory. And that if the folks walking past my house and I were to share our stories, we would find the same themes, the same plot lines, the same unifying beliefs.

But also, these daily encounters are moment-by-moment reminders that my experiences and how I see the world aren’t the whole. Aren’t reality. Aren’t The One and Only. Or, to paraphrase another biblical bit, they’re daily reminders to walk humbly—and lovingly—as I, as we seek to do justice.

*Lots of conflicting studies, lots of rhetoric, but the crime rate in sanctuary cities seems to be lower!

**Slightly amazed I’m quoting Leviticus, one book of the Bible I’ve never connected with!

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Well, hello, there, Patricia, my so, so very For Always dearly special and awesomely precious soul sisterfriend who you’re For Always so, so very much!!!!! WOW, sister, what a beautifully empowering and comforting blog post article this is for sure here of yours, Patricia!!!!! As a person who would be considered a member of very many oppressed, marginalized groups I feel such deep love from you for all of us as your so very dear sisters and brothers, such great and undaunted, indomitable solidarity from your from the very great spirit of unity, and such great comfort, friendship, and sisterhood from you that I am not alone and that we are all not alone, and that in fact we are all in this together resisting and in fighting the good fight-allies and oppressed, marginalized people alike. I feel concerned about my safety and welfare as an indigent, disabled lesbian black woman who has very many, multiple physical and even other disabilities yet I have such complete faith and expectancy of such great hope with my For Always eternal positive optimism being such a great Pollyanna. My dear, dear Patricia, it is so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful white women like YOU, my absolutely fantastic friend and sister, and other marvelous white persons who keep this indigent, disabled lesbian black woman keep on keeping on in keeping m very faith and hope alive. I feel so loved by you, my so, so very dearest and darling sister and friend, and even though I can kind of feel like a stranger in my own country I For Always love our very special, blessed, precious, and beloved United States of American, and I so, so very much love and cherish being an American, sister. It’s like I feel a level of discomfort being a member of very many oppressed, marginalized groups but it’s like I have kind of acclimated myself to that level of discomfort being ever aware and hypervigilant that even though I am an American born citizen and that I have Christian privilege being a Christian I still feel a little at risk and have concern that I, too, could be a risk even being a stranger, albeit a familiar stranger in a strange land, my so, so very loving, caring, and kind sister, Patricia. Sister, I am just so, so very pleased, thrilled, overjoyed, and happy that your dear and awesome city of Somerville and also the very special city of Cambridge are sanctuary cities. This is just beautiful here and absolutely awesome, Patricia!!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!!! Sister, I love how you constantly pray and pray without ceasing, being very open, willing, wanting, and ready for Spirit’s call in ever asking Spirit, “What am I called to do?” Patricia, this blog post article is just very beautiful and so encouraging to me as I am emboldened and inspired to keep the faith in resisting and never ever giving up or losing heart!!!!! I feel the loving warmth of you, sisterfriend, as my friend and sister together in our sisterhood, and that you are an ally ever striving to pay attention with your deep spiritual practice to what that interaction calls up for you, Patricia!!!!! It is because of superbly super people like YOU, Patricia, and the other splendid people that I know come what may that I can make it, and that I can make it through somehow someway making a way out of no way, and even with whatever bad that may come that I can make it through somehow navigating through that very tricky terrain, my absolutely awesome friend!!!!!! I thank-YOU, thank-YOU, thank-YOU so, so very much, Patricia, so, so very profusely, kindly, dearly, and deeply, my so, so very dear friend!!!!! Sister, I just love the super links which you have as usual as always very graciously and generously featured with this very empowering blog post article/ How interesting, fascinating, and informative are these great links here. What a cool picture here which you have featured so perfectly with this very fine and excellent article of yours with such an apt title, too, for your great writing here. Sister, my very heart breaks at how petrified the children are crying out in sheer fear at the majority-immigrant schools!!!!! I shudder to think of how fearful, anxious, and stressed these so very dear kids are and how the adults in their families must be feeling!!!!! I think to myself that I must be safer being an American born citizen and having Christian privilege being a Christian but I know also that there are still some risks involved for myself, sister. Like how some blacks/African-Americans have trouble at airports due to racial profiling, oppression, racism, and discrimination. Sister, I have not been on an airplane in ages since February 1981 and I fear so that if I were to fly on an airplane that I would also face, endure, and experience the very same trouble and trauma. I’ve read about and otherwise heard about how some black women with natural hairstyles are racially profiled and targeted sometimes at some airports and I think of myself with my natural hairstyle having an afro that the same thing could possibly happen to me, sister. I will For Always keep the faith, though, with my eternal positive optimism, and no matter what happens I will never ever become rage-filled and bitter keeping such sweet love in my very, very heart, and in my very, very heart, mind, soul, and spirit for each and every one of you as such awesome white persons and my very special sisters and brothers as our Good God’s children, very, very especially YOU, dear, dearest Patricia, and other so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful white women with so, so very much loving and cherishing you all thinking so, so very highly of each of you as white women with you all being my very, very heart, and also my very, very heartsblood, and heartblood, and also my very, very lifesblood, and lifeblood!!!!!! I’ll never ever waver from my love for all of you no matter what and this is my very sacred promise to Spirit and to each and every one of you For Always, sister!!!!!!:)!!!!<3

    Sisterfriend, I walk humbly and lovingly with you as we seek to do justice, and we are all in this together in the great unity of the spirit!!!!! I offer you my very, very heart and love, and for each and every one of you as our Spirit's children and my sisters and brothers!!!!! Sister, I know what you mean about the book of Leviticus. It is not one of my favorite books of the Holy Bible and I used to feel very condemned as a lesbian by the passages in this book which are misinterpreted and taken out of context which seem to condemn LGBTQQIAs. Wow, I felt so, so very oppressed by this book in the Old Testament and by those misused and abused verses, sister!!!!! Wow, Patricia, I feel even better and brighter with even more great cheer after very joyfully reading your very uplifting and inspiring blog post article here, and very joyously responding with my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough thoughts, ideas, and comments!!!!! Now I am even more emboldened, encouraged, and inspired being even more renewed, re-energized, reinvigorated, and rejuvenated. Yay for YOU, Patricia!!!!! Yay for our sisterhood and friendship, Patricia!!!!! Yay!!!!! I thank Spirit continually for YOU, Patricia, and for your so, so very dearest presence in my life!!!!! Patricia, you help me with my very walk with Jesus, sister!!!!!! I've been praying for your dear right knee, and in general for you, too, keeping you covered in my very frequently and daily prayers and thoughts sending to you such great positive energy, my friend!!!!! Patricia, Spirit so, so very much loves and cherishes YOU, and so do I!!!!! Please have such a totally terrific and a very thrilling Thursday, a wondrously wonderful weekend ahead, and may all of your very days be so, so very especially blessed, Patricia!!!!!! Patricia, you are just awesome!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so, so very For Always dearly precious soul sisterfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you're For Always so, so very much, Patricia, with My and Spirit's Love For You For Always, friend of mine, and with Such Blessings and Such Very Even More Blessings For You For Always, sister of mine,

    Yours For Always soul sisterfriend Christian black woman and For Always in the very great spirit of unity and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

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