We got up at 7:30 am and were off to MCC Holy Cross of Pensacola by 9:15 am. There was a good crowd at church and I enjoyed the service — praise and worship music was uplifting and the sermon was good. One we all need to hear and heed regarding taking care of our world and the earth because there is no “dealership” where we can go and purchase a replacement.
After church we drove to Pensacola Beach on the Gulf Shore National Seashore. The gleaming white sands and crystal clear blue/green water still amazes me. It is so unlike our Texas Gulf – murky, brown, and stinky! We sat our chairs up on the ridge of sand just above the incoming waves and enjoyed our picnic lunch. Of course, we lathered up with sunscreen before eating. The temperature was a both/and. We were both warmed by the sun, and the truth be known it was hot, and cooled by the sea breeze. The seashore is a tease that way! It is hot, but the breeze makes it feel cooler
We went into the water and played for a while letting the waves “wash” us back to shore. I went about 100 yards out, and the water was still only hip to chest deep. In our “washing” we occasionally had to look toward the shore and find our chairs, only to realize that the waves had carried us far down the beach. The “washing” was fun, but walking against the waves to our point of origin proved to be somewhat of a workout for the old legs!
We retired to our chairs and enjoyed the vast view — 180 degrees — horizon to horizon. I listened in darkness to the consistent, rhythmic melody of the soothing rolling surf. I dug my feet into the sand and felt the warmth and cool of the gritty massage. I watched the children playing– one cute little girl in particular. She looked to be about 18-20 months old and was decked out in a pink and white bathing suit topped with a matching cap. Regardless of coaxing by Mom and older brother and sister, she literally dug her heels in and absolutely refused to go into the water. If the diminishing waves caught her feet, she screamed and ran backwards. She squealed and seemed the most content when grabbing fists full of sand and throwing it in the air. Oh, such simple delights of children!! What a joy!!
As we started back into the water, we noticed an ominous cloud behind us. A front was predicted to come through with a possibility of thunderstorms. With the winds ahead of the front the surf was up moderately and the yellow caution flags were flying. We went back into the water anyway and continued our jumping and “washing” exercise. Of course, occasionally we didn’t jump soon enough or high enough and would get blasted by the wave swell or breaking surf. This brought on episodes of spitting and sputtering and attempts to get the salt water of the mouth and eyes. That usually doesn’t work — trying to get salt sea water out of your eyes with hands wet with same is a fruitless effort. Oh, well, just endure the momentary sting and let the natural tears do their thing and all is soon well! The playing continued until we heard the roll of thunder in the distance and saw a flash of lightning.
Out of the water we came, gathered our things, and lugged them back to the car, as did many others. Dripping and gritty we prepared for the drive back to our camper trailer looking forward to a warm shower and dry clothes. Not looking forward so much to the cleanup — sand in the chairs, towels, car, etc. Why is an outing atthe beach so much fun and at the same time takes so much effort? Ah, but that horizon to horizon vista, the rhythmic sound of the rolling surf, the warm, cool sad between your toes, and the squeals of delighted children!! It tickles my soul and makes my spirit soar! No doubt, it is worth the effort!
I would think after weeks that this story would have run its course in the news cycle, but apparently not, as we continue to see the headlines, photos and videos of thousands of Central American unaccompanied minors crossing our southern borders seeking asylum. It’s about immigration and children – subjects that typically rouse our passions. Plus, immigration and children in the package we are currently experiencing may put our passions in conflict with one another and that makes for more “story.” One may feel equally passionate about issues of immigration – legal or illegal — and caring for the well being, both short and long term, of children regardless of their ethnic or cultural origins. So – what do we do? Or, maybe more to the point – What did we do?
I know this is difficult – being honest about our own culpability always is – but let’s first of all acknowledge and be accountable for our responsibility in the current situation. Since Columbus first stepped foot on the American mainland near today’s Trujillo, Honduras, in August 1502 during his fourth voyage, the native peoples and their lands have been exploited by Anglos/Americans. Read the history from the establishment of the “banana republics” in the 19th century with their sprawling banana plantations to the U.S. led destabilization of Central America which began in 1954 with the overthrow of the elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz whose plans ran contrary to the interests of the United Fruit Company, a U.S. corporation owning much of Guatemala’s fertile land, along with railroad infrastructure, and a port. Let’s not forget the U.S involvement, both covertly and overtly in the Central American civil wars, gorilla wars, and military coups of the 1950-1980’s. Are we not surprised that with decades – even centuries — of exploitation, government instability, chaos, and lawlessness all exacerbated by extreme poverty within the population that corruption, gangs, drug use, and violence increased exponentially. And now we have thousands of children seeking to escape the violence and poverty streaming across our southern borders. Yep, no doubt, our national policies and actions through both Democratic and Republican administrations during the last two hundred years have contributed to the current humanitarian crisis on our borders. As a people and a nation we must acknowledge our culpability and complicity in this human tragedy. Can we not take this first step toward a solution? Let’s stop blaming everyone and everything else. Let’s stop maligning children and parents seeking safety, sanctuary, and hope in what we claim to be the greatest nation on earth. Let’s be the greatest nation and seek a solution that is just and compassionate and offers life and hope for all.
NOTE: I realize I have jumped into the fray with this post. As I stated in the previous post, for me the landmarks of our spiritual journey and subsequent growth are those times we take an honest look at ourselves and take responsibility for our actions, hold ourselves accountable for them, and move forward with new vision, hope, and resolve. Perhaps this is one of those landmark occasions when our nation needs to do just that!