Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

Photo: (c) iStock.com / fcscafeine (image #511580382)As many of you know my husband, David, is spending this summer on a wilderness adventure in Alaska, supported by a Lily Endowment Grant for Clergy Renewal that he and his congregation received. His itinerary included travel from Portland to Anchorage, alone, on a motorcycle. For the first 2000 miles all went according to plan. He was exhausted at the end of each day, and exhilarated, his imagination saturated by the beauty of the landscape and the close encounters with bear, deer, and moose along the way.

And then on the tenth day of his ride, deep in rural Yukon Territory, things went a bit sideways.

His rented motorcycle, so graceful and solid at high speeds, was unwieldy at low speeds. And on that tenth day David sprained his knee and tore a tendon in his arm trying to maneuver the bike’s weight in a gravel parking lot. He was at a back-country lodge, forty minutes from the next town and 500 miles from his final destination with no cell service, no Wi-Fi and no landline. Needless to say, he went to bed that night feeling pretty low.

And then a beautiful thing happened. Well, one beautiful thing right after another, actually.

One person after another went out of their way to make sure David had what he needed: a place to stay; transportation to a medical clinic; a 500 mile! ride to the retreat center; access to the retreat center pick-up during his stay; his rented motorcycle retrieved. At every step: kindness and generosity. Which fills me with gratitude and almost restores my faith in humanity.

David was alone and hurt in a different country, with no immediate way of getting in touch with family.

Just like the families who are arriving at our southern border.

But unlike them he had documents, and a credit card. And fair, white skin.

I wonder which of these things really made the difference?

I wonder how we human beings can be so good at being kind - and so good at being heartless.

I invite you all, as you set out on your own summer adventures, or welcome visiting family, or simply continue the daily round, to join me in praying:

With gratitude for all the helpers - the ones who are kind to individuals they happen upon, and the ones who go out of their way to give relief to detained people, and the ones who work tirelessly for a more just immigration system;

With devotion for the children separated from their parents, and the parents whose hearts cry out for their children, families who were seeking safety and instead found separation and cruelty;

With longing for our government, charged with keeping us safe, that they may no longer treat simple refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers as dangerous criminals.

And for ourselves, that we may give and receive compassion and kindness with joyful hearts, trusting that God sees the good in humanity and wills that we thrive, together.