I had a dream a few months ago that my family and I were refugees. My dream was vivid. We arrived in a camp with only the clothes on our backs. We were lodged in a plywood dorm, sparsely decorated, and filled with rough characters. Wildfires burned in the vicinity, adding peril to our already difficult journey. We’ve become desensitized over the past decade to the plight of migrants.
What really struck me in that dream was the desperation of our situation. We went from a safe, stable, predictable life to one in which I couldn’t even guarantee the safety of my family. We had literally nothing.
The mass migration from Africa and the Middle East continues. Central Americans continue to journey north in search of peace and security. To many of us, the issue is academic; it’s a question of policy. To these people, the journey is fraught with danger.
As we approach Advent and Christmas, my thoughts have turned to the Holy Family. They were Jewish refugees, fleeing from violence and danger at home, to live abroad in Egypt. Their journey was like that of the modern migrant.
I take the comforts of my life for granted. When we need food or supplies, I simply go to Walmart and get what we need. The shelves are full of items, and our pantry never runs empty. My children don’t wonder when their next meal will be served. There are far too many people, even in developed countries, who don’t share in that comfort.
Advent, like Lent, is a season of penance and almsgiving. Donating to a food pantry, or making a financial contribution to a charity working with migrants and the displaced, makes a difference. We have the power to ease the suffering of our neighbors.