Text of Reflection and Prayer
Good evening, Brookfield! We’re gathered tonight from many different faith traditions and from no faith tradition, and I want to respect that. I speak from a tradition, progressive Christianity, that respects other traditions, and tries to appreciate their teachings without appropriation. Please forgive me if I step over that line tonight—it is unintended, and I welcome education.
This is a vigil for the children separated from their parents as they crossed the border, as they entered this country. Children—infants to teenagers—taken from their parents, from the only caretakers they knew, without explanation, many of the children unable to speak in any language, handed over to for-profit child care providers who were not properly screened. The result has been children who are traumatized—no longer bonded to their parents when they are reunited, who do not recognize or trust their parents, who have been abused, medicated to keep them docile or quiet, shipped to other parts of the country, inadequate records kept, in effect lost in the system—by an administration that thought no-one would notice, no-one would care. We noticed, we care.
In both Christian and Jewish tradition, the Divine is often seen as a loving parent—“You are my child, today, today I have begotten you.” Israel is the Holy One’s child—“Like a child on leading strings, I led you.”
In the Christian writings, in the Gospels, children appear frequently as symbols of innocence—“if someone should lead these children astray, it would be better for them that they have a millstone tied around their neck and they be drowned in the sea.” “Let the children come to me,” Jesus said. “Who would give their child a serpent when he asks for fish?”
And there is no greater mourning than that of a mother for her children. The prophet Jeremiah says:: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
This is the voice of our immigrant sisters, weeping for their children—they do not know where to find them; they have been taken from them. We, who are the privileged ones who live here, this is our cause—to insist that our elected leaders in Congress and the administration find those children, return them to their rightful parents, help them heal—they will never be the same, but help them—and change this hateful, evil policy—remove it from our land. This is what justice demands.
All spiritual paths that I have studied, all moral systems I have read of, have one tenet in common. “Do to others what you would want done to you.” Whether you follow a spiritual path or not, we can all agree on this. And we would want our children kept with us.
My friends and neighbors, do not tire of this work, this struggle, this fight. We remember, we work, for these children, to return them to the place they belong—with their families, where they belong. I’d like to offer a moment of prayer to strengthen and encourage us in this work, in this struggle.
Holy One, Creator of the Universe, Allah, You Who Are, Grandfather; Higher Power; we have gathered today to remember these children and families and to gather courage and strength from those memories. Give us wisdom and teach us your ways; may we speak truth to power, demanding answers and justice for these children. Do not let us weaken or give up out of frustration or weariness; remind us of your love for us, like a parent for a child, and that as we are never abandoned by you, we cannot allow this administration, or any human power to abandon these children either. Grant us an open heart to love and strong shoulders to bear any burdens, until the day comes when all the children are home with their families and justice is served upon those who separated them, and the policies are changed, so that no more children will suffer as these have suffered. May it be so, may it be so, may it be so. Amen.