by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde
“Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him.” Matthew 2:13
I try to imagine what it is like to be an undocumented, employed immigrant, living and working in the United States.
I posses the social security number of another being; I work to provide for my family – here in my home, and beyond the borders of the United States, in my place of birth. I pay taxes, but reap no benefits I can claim. I don’t sleep well at night. The din of fear—of being found out – is constantly there. When I work, staying busy, productivity almost drowns out these feelings of vulnerability, uncertainty. I pay for food that goes on the table in two locations; lights and running water are not luxuries I take for granted. My mother has enough to eat at home. I know a path toward greater opportunity and freedom for my children. My heart takes solace in these truths. I believe in a God that sees my goodness and worth, no matter what the law says, or how social and political commentary characterizes me. I am a child of God.
I was in Mexico, on vacation, when news of the St. Agnes Bakery (http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2018/01/18/bakery-ice-audit-super-bowl/) — just a few miles from the Loyola Spirituality Center –was closed because of the threat of an Immigration audit. Word of 10-18 employees fleeing -for fear of deportation – traveled to me while I sat pool-side, south-of-the-border. As a spiritual director and small business owner, this news hit me square in the chest. The fear of an ICE raid — the psychological, financial and physical impact registered – and registers – with me in my daily prayer.
I’m currently doing the Ignatian Exercises in everyday life. (http://www.fscenter.org/content/programs-retreats/finding-god-in-all-things ) My daily waking routine includes praying with scripture — entering into the life of Jesus using my imagination and five senses, encountering Jesus through Spirit-led meditations. On the day of the St. Agnes’ immigration raid news, I was praying with Matthews’ gospel.
I saw the holy family in flight. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph taking off for Egypt under the threat of Herod’s reign and terror. I recognized one leader’s desire to rid the country of the threat posed by Jesus. I felt Mary and Joseph’s impulse to protect their child at all costs. I imagined whose children or families were fleeing under similar threat . The scripture and history connected with my present life and prayer circumstances.
As a woman of faith, I weep equating the terror-stricken immigrant employee in flight from the bakery with the terror-stricken Holy Family. I open up to my vulnerability. I recognize my incredible comfort as a white woman born on US soil. I ask God to show me a path to speak, act, and align with Love and Justice that emerges from my scriptural contemplations.
As a small business and bakery owner who stands to gain financially from the St. Agnes’ closure, I have further questions to discern: What is Just employment? How do I lead as a small business owner in St. Paul at this time? And as a Loyola director, I contemplate: What is my role as a spiritual director, ever-present to these tensions in my life-callings?
What do the headlines open up in you this day? Where is Jesus leading you on your faith journey? What tensions between Love and Law call you to further prayer and action?
Melissa will be leading a five week Lenten Series Ignatian Spirituality: A Lenten Journey of reflection, imagination and growing personally in relationship with our Loving God at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Plymouth.
For more information on the Ignatian Exercises, visit our website at http://loyolaspiritualitycenter.org/spiritual-exercises.