To Where?

Something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another. This is how Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines the word journey.

I looked out my kitchen window this month and saw a flock of Canadian Geese flying in formation out in the distance. They positioned themselves as a perfect arrow in the sky flapping their wings in consolidated purpose. Eventually, I began to hear their playful honking and barking as they neared my home and flew overhead.

To where?

These geese were migrating on their own accord to a destination free from any restrictions of longitude or latitude; international boundaries; or state and county lines. They were simply birds making their way across the earth’s planetary atmosphere in a blue sky.

A few days ago I finished reading The Last Girl by Nadia Murad. Her memoir is of her displacement in 2014 from a small village of shepherds and farmers in Kocho, Iraq where Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village and enslaved her and other Yazidi girls into the ISIS slave trade. As a survivor and witness to the ongoing genocide and rape, and her willingness to help survivors by telling her own painful story to the world, she is the UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. Last month she was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize along with Denis Mukwege “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

I closed the cover of Nadia Murad’s memoir with a great sadness. A multitude of faces fleeing oppression in all parts of our globe, in the act of journey, in the act of seeking passage, tore at my heart. Those human faces ranged from supple-cheeked babies to cusp-primed teens to the weathered and to the aged and to everyone in between. A myriad of skin tones and facial shapes from ancient days and current times rose up in my thoughts. Oppression and the longing for a better life is as much a reality today as it ever was.

As a Christian anticipating the joy of the upcoming Advent season, I think about Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt with the Christ Child in their arms to avoid Herod’s slaughter. I am grateful for the Christ Child. I also grieve the slaughter of the innocents left behind.

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner 1923

And I pause to remember the diverse religions in this world, the many lives, stories, and customs. And I embrace free will for all people.

After watching the beautiful geese pump their wings across the ocean of sky above my head, an antithesis cluttered my conscience. I could see images of yoked slaves, of decimated tribes, of human ovens, of overloaded refugee boats, of human caravans…

and I wondered…

about the hot disputes over the feasibility to ensure the physical safety and the freedom of belief to all inhabitants of any given land while at the same time welcoming those foreign-born who have been stripped by human oppression. And can this be done with an expediency that transforms the rolls of bureaucratic red tape into prudent and wise actions of mercy? Are vigilance and compassion compatible?

Each one of us is on a journey of some kind. The question is to where?

Thanks for stopping by.