Sunday, July 8, 2012

Immigration and Pilgrimage

The immigration issue is really hard.  I think it is another iceberg-- where all you see is the tip-- while the big pieces are that the employers can use the cheap labor, and get away with not providing the "living wages" which would cover the healthcare, housing, social services, infrastructure needs of the towns, and the education needs of the families who take these low-paying jobs.  Meanwhile there are big money sponsors eager to to help conservative politicians like Scott Walker, who want to "remove social services" from the agenda of the government.  To me this is egregious behavior.  It is also narrow-minded and short-term thinking.  We have to hope that there are more people who see "the big picture", and can mentallly construct the rest of the iceberg from the tip they can see- so we don't sink the country on it!   Once a Mexican woman asked me to write a letter to the immigration authorities for her, begging for medical amnesty.  This was because she was afraid that if she went home to deliver her baby, she would likely die.  There is no hospital, no running water, no doctor, no midwife, no electricity, no help in the rural farm she came from.  She begged to have her baby here, where we have these services.
I was just reading that Partners In Health has been figuring out how to give cesarean deliveries in rural places where OB help is needed, and how much it would cost-- something like $300.   I keep hoping that their model, and also help from the World Bankers through the new job of Jim Young Kim, will make it possible.  When I was young, cervical cancer was the biggest killer of women.  We are now at the edge of wiping out HPV-related cervical cancer with a vaccine.  May it also be true that in my lifetime, we can bring OB care and CSections to the vast majority of the world's women who need a safe passage to motherhood.  May we not have so many orphans.  May we not have the need for so many vesico-vaginal fistulae, as women get timely surgical deliveries.  May I live to see it!
I hope that we as Americans can begin to turn the tide toward recognition that social services and health care and education are actually part of "providing for the general welfare"-- as stated in the constitution.  I believe  the common good, and the consensus needed, will help propel us into the better government, with more transparency and more flexibility to meet the needs of the citizenry, to really make us a nation looking forward for the 21st century.
 I have been reading the Tikkun magazine, and thinking of the idea of Tikkun Olam--to repair the world.  I also have been thinking about the experience of walking the Camino, of being a pilgrim, needing support and help as we went along.  How easy it was to get tired and hungry and frightened that our needs might not be met!  Needing shelter and food, and "dying" to lie down with our feet up, were the topmost thoughts of the day.  I was listening to David Steindl-Rast and David Whyte, at the colloquium, online.  David's new poems about the Camino are just fabulous.  He says what I wanted to say.  I wanted to talk about the sense of the sacred, of the importance of always feeling like we were walking on holy ground.  When they talked about shedding the old skin, the dead skin, like shoe leather, in the way Moses was told to shed his shoes before the burning bush, Fr. David Steindl-Rast talked about how "to get our living skin onto the living earth" is what is meant-- because we KNOW in our flesh that we are always on holy ground.  Also, he pointed out that it was not so miraculous that the bush was burning, but that it was burning without being consumed.  The joy in life, the pleasure and passion and engagement, are when we are burning but not being burnt out or used up.  Gratefulness helps us to recognize the vitality and passion in ourselves.  We bring new life, new energy to our daily world if we can feel that we are on holy ground, and that we are pilgrims, moving toward the sacred with gratitude, and with wonder and curiosity.  I can hardly say enough how grateful I am to have had the month to walk the Pilgrimage path.  I am still joyful, at the gift it was!