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MY EXPERIENCE: THE WALL – THE BORDER

Ercilia Janeth Ferrera Erazo CND

My first experience at the wall was one of surprise, astonishment, sadness, and conflicting emotions. I always thought that the migrants had the challenge of passing only one wall to go to the United States. The caravans that were at the wall only a few months came to my mind. Some of them challenged the U.S. authorities doing everything possible to climb and pass to the other side of the wall, right by the sea.

I was surprised to see that the wall begins or ends in the sea, crosses mountains, goes up and down hills. So much money spent and so much fear!

Here, I share with you two pictures I took of the first part of the wall. We can also see how nature is affected; the way Mother Earth is divided, distributed, and influenced. What is behind the wall that makes it so untouchable, even consider passing it? 

I was also astonished to see that there is not only one wall. In some places, there are three walls or obstacles. In other words, if the migrants manage to cross one, they then have two or more to cross, in addition to the border police or the armed volunteers, who also take care and defend the border.

The wall has also many names written on it, names of people who died trying to cross it. Another part of the wall reflects colour, life, desires for peace, love, and opportunities.

It also makes me reflect deeply that this is an insurmountable physical wall. What are the walls I put in front of people who are different? What features in me can be felt or be superior in front of other people? Why are we talking about white supremacy? Does God have a color? Will he or she be white?

What borders or obstacles do I have that I impose on others? What are the walls and prejudices I have towards other people, towards other cultures? What are the racisms in me, in us that we must name to be free, to grow together as equals? Yes, equals! Even our way of referring to others is a call, an invitation to grow. For example: when we talk about Canadian sisters, we say Francophones, Anglophones, and also Americans, Japanese, Latinos, Cameroonians, and sometimes Africans. Why is it that for some of us we distinguish nationality and others are generalized? When I learned geography in school in Honduras, better to say in Tegucigalpa, I learned that America was a continent divided into three parts: North America, Central America, and South America… But now, forgive my innocence, I learn that there are only two Americas: North and South. Why did Central America become invisible? Or as we might sometimes hear, as a joke, that Central America is a mistake of nature. What does it mean when you make “America” a synonym of “United States?” What is behind this ideology and way of thinking and seeing? Please forgive me if my words and questions hurt your feelings, it is not my intention. I intended to deepen, understand the barriers, differences, walls, and interpretations of the world and ourselves.

What walls, stigmas, and wounds do we carry within us for being different? Some because we come from poor countries and others from rich countries. I could even go further in the divisions, the way of seeing ourselves as teachers or not, as having taught in a certain school, or being a missionary or a cook. These separations or divisions do not help to build, to bring together, or to grow. It does not help to appreciate and admire the richness in each of us, the gift that we are to each other and humanity. And also the intercultural and intergenerational gift and witness that we are and offer as opportunity and beauty to the world.

What are walls for if not for dividing? The construction of the wall started in 1994 and now, the dilemma is to continue and find money for its construction. Even an American child raises money for the construction of the wall by selling chocolates, he already raised $22,000. All because we need to stop the invasion of migrants, who are also criminals, poor, and do not have equal rights. The power of words and what we say, think, and communicate can create differences or possibilities for life. It is within us the choice and decision of how to see ourselves, how to situate ourselves, how to lose the fear of talking about certain subjects that might be uncomfortable but would help us understand and love each other beyond God´s way, as we are creatures created in His image and likeness.

The second experience at the wall made me cry. I consider it a prophetic gesture of the Scalabrinians. They took advantage of an international meeting of their new members in San Diego and came to the Tijuana border to pray near the wall with a gesture that says a lot. They gave a small step and touched the wall to knock down everything that stops life.

Touching is a powerful sign, like Jesus in the Gospels who touches, liberates, restores life, and regenerates. Touching the wall and praying there is a prophetic sign because we do it in the name of Christ, whom we follow and serve in the poorest, excluded, and marginalized, those towards whom Christ begs us to have compassion and listen to their cries. Today, our world cries, migrants cry, and our beloved land also cries in the face of climate change. How do we touch, heal, and respond to the cries and the needs of the world as sisters and as a Congregation?

Another symbol that caught my attention was a ladder made of many crosses used for a prayer celebration for the deceased, remembering all those who died at the border, near the wall.

The ladder touched my heart. First, because the ladder is made of many unnamed crosses. Many of them may be unknown, but significant and vital to homes and families where they are no longer present.

Second, it caught my attention because that was the only place where there was a lot of garbage. What a profound meaning? These men and women may or may not be recognized as persons… but what is significant is that all these crosses together build solidarity, dreams, and opportunities. As a way of recognition, the ladder was lifted and placed near a tree, a sign of hope, of life, of Presence, of being sisters and brothers of the world and of how to be a prophetic presence at the border and create a change. Or, is this a simple dream and utopia? How to involve ourselves in simple acts of encounter and communion? What are the risks we are being called to live today? What compassionate look does Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys invite us to have?

To be sisters of the world, embracing all humans, building opportunities, assuming the unexpected and unknown risks, raising hope and life.

To follow Jesus who came to bring life and life in abundance! John 10, 10

 

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