December 10 was International Human Rights Day, and we brought Mary and Joseph to seek shelter at the immigration detention center. It is an immigration court as well, but since so very few immigrants win their cases, it amounts to be the last stop, the last holding pen before they are separated from their families and deported.
It was below zero when we started walking, with windchills 10-15 below. By the time Mary and Joseph got there, the sun rose—gloriously, I might add. Beauty and the call for justice were together, almost dancing.
And then the temperature reached up to zero.
Zero. A good place to start. Zero hour. Zero degrees is due north, and we were walking in the cold north, pleading for posada for others like Maria and Jose to not be sent south—some to certain violence and death, all to pain and separation.
The detention center is located near Fort Snelling. Fort Snelling was built near the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, where the Dakota believe creation started. It was at Ft. Snelling that hundreds of Dakota women, children and elderly were interned after the 1862 uprising, before they died of hunger and exposure, or were deported from Minnesota. There was no longer any room for them in this state, and no time to advocate for their freedom and dignity.
The “zero hour” of the Christmas story is recorded in St. Luke 2:7:
“Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
Why was there no place in the inn? Because Mary and Joseph were foreigners Galileans who were seen as 2nd class people,? Or because they were poor? Or was it because of the hardness of the Innkeeper's hearts?
Why do today's migrants ask for shelter in this country and can't find it? Because they are foreigners, considered “less than”? Or poor? Or is it because of the hardness of our hearts?
We’re going to walk with these giant puppets of Mary and Joseph through our immigrant neighborhood on Sunday, asking for posada, for shelter. As our program says, “we will keep walking. We will keep opening doors.”
Be justice. Be beauty. Be welcoming.
Postscript: when I insert a picture into a Word document, it often gives an unasked for caption suggestion. This is what came up with the photo above:
A picture containing sky, outdoor, person, ground
I’m just going to leave that hanging there.