Death Is The Ultimate Deportation

Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m growing weary of s-holes and s-houses.   I need a break.  After nearly a week of righteous indignation, I’m worn out.  If my street credibility as an activist is measured by my perpetual anger at the latest verbal (or policy) assault the oppressed are suffering on behalf of the United States government; I’d be kicked out of the progressive club.  Why?  My anger is spent.  At some point, my frustration has to get up and go to work.  I can’t sit around and be angry all day.   I need to go love someone who is hurting.  Their hurt is mine.  In reality, we’re all in the same s-hole.

I don’t get to put on my clergy collar, Guatemalan stole, and take photos of angry ICE officers, and make eloquent statements about the failed policies of a corrupt regime.  Instead, while Rome burns, I need to sit with people who’ve lost their wives, husbands, daughters, and sons.  If you haven’t noticed, it’s winter.  Winter is hard on the frail, elderly, the lonely, the mentally ill, and the sick.  People are dying faster than the government is negotiating a budget resolution.   Death is the ultimate deportation.  There’s no deal we can reach to keep anyone here or bring anyone back.

No one from the news media would interview me were I to protest the great “Deportation Agent in the Sky”.  It’s true; people who’ve been here for decades and raised their children in my church are being taken away to a “better place”.  Only the local paper prints obituaries. Despite some people describing the life deportation process as a journey to “glory”, the family members who remain seem to find little comfort in knowing their relatives are in a well-cared for in location from which they will never return.  It’s easy to ignore the permanent “deportations” happening each day.  They are real, painful, and go on whether or not anyone is looking.  Young, old, black, white, Hispanic, men, and women all fall victim to these deportations.  You see my point.  There’s a great deal of pain just beneath the radar which we can’t ignore.  Yet, might framing a discussion of death as “deportation” inform how we help those who are facing the threat of actual deportations in our community?

How do we help the families of those who’ve been “deported” to eternity,  persons who are facing death, and people who fear deportation in a literal sense?  I believe our best plan is to be honest.  Would I want to be lied to?  No.  What are the words that might bring me hope?  What do I try to say?

  1. God does not give us pain. God embraces our pain.  We do pain together.
  2. Death is not a transfer of church membership from earth to Heaven. Please, let there be no church in Heaven.  Let’s just hang out with God.
  3. No one has permanent resident status. Life is temporary.  You are dreamer too.  Your life, your future, is fragile too.  Live like a dreamer.  Value lives and dreams of others.
  4. To picture where we might be going (i.e. Heaven) is to limit God. Try not to place boundaries on God’s bigness or smallness.  Heaven is not a country.  The Kingdom of God isn’t a nation state.
  5. Invite God into your personal s-hole. God wants to be there.

Richard Lowell Bryant