by Holly Duncan
It was the middle of the night when I woke up to an unfamiliar scratching sound. Gallantly, I got up to investigate the situation. (I’m not sure what I was thinking. Have I never seen a horror movie?!?) I quickly discovered something trapped inside my kitchen cabinet, clawing to get out. Having reached the end of my bravery, I yelled for my hibernating husband, startling both the mouse and the man. The mouse scurried away as the man scooted sleepily down the hall into the kitchen.
In retrospect, I should have known then it was going to be a rough day. Any experience that includes mice is planted squarely in my mental registry of “Days I would Rather Not Repeat.” But crisis averted, we both returned to sleep.
A few short hours later, phase two of my adventure began. After dragging myself out of bed and sharing a few fleeting moments with hubby before he left for work, I rallied the kids into the car for school. However, once we were all in and ready to go, the car wouldn't start. The battery was completely dead, the neighbors weren’t home, the roadside service was an hour away, and an anxious ten year old was developing an ulcer about being late for safety patrol.
So I did what any middle class, overly ambitious, feminist wannabe mom of two boys would do: I decided we could walk to school.
As it turned out, I did not consider this plan thoroughly. In order to “save time,” I routed my two elementary age boys through a field of wet grass and a “shortcut” through the woods. We traversed the brambles and ditches, and I only fell into a hole once. In my defense, it was covered with leaves. (Thankfully no mice or other creatures got me!)
Eventually, we found our way through the woods and back to the main road, where we were greeted by whizzing cars. Having dropped my sense of adventure back in the hole in the woods, my optimistic playfulness with my kids was replaced with nervous scolding, “Stay close to me…get away from the curb…pay attention!”
As we trudged along the unpaved side of the road, my thoughts snaked between keeping my own unsuspecting children away from the traffic and the untold numbers of mothers who have attempted to safeguard their own precious babies from danger. I thought of the many people who might be setting out that morning on similar journeys following slight trails, attempting to make their way to school or work or somewhere unknown. My thoughts of, “I hope I never have to do this again,” bumped up next to the simultaneous thought, “This is the daily reality for millions of people around the world.”
Actually, this is a daily reality for 21.3 million people.
Later that afternoon, I attended a presentation where church leaders and advocates shared about the work being done in our city to welcome refugees. World Relief Director of Church Mobilization and author of Seeking Refuge, Matthew Soerens discussed the important, biblical work of welcoming those who come to our door as Christ does (Matthew 25).
My own neighbors are Nepali refugees, and our family has had the blessing of coming to know and love and be loved by them. While I am indebted to God for their friendship and survival, I know nothing of their lived suffering. One day of inconvenience is enough to bring me to my knees.
I wouldn’t normally thank God for a mouse in my kitchen or a dead car battery. I certainly wouldn’t offer gratitude for traipsing my kids through wet fields, thorny forests, and dangerous roads. However, on this day, I’m giving thanks. Thankful yes, that this is not my normal experience, and for the increased capacity for understanding - even just a tiny bit - of what might compel a parent to begin the arduous journey of leaving home. I hope that if I ever had to leave, someone would welcome me.
Lord God, our celestial parent, grow our compassion - the willingness to suffer alongside - mothers and fathers and children fleeing home. Give us a holy hospitality to welcome them as your own body and blood. For the sake of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
To learn more about how your church can join God in welcoming refugees check out: