Yesterday, November 2, on the Feast of All Souls I was able to go to the fence at the U.S.-Mexico border for the annual Mass in memory of those who have died trying to immigrate. As usual the celebration was bittersweet. As Bishop Ramirez of Las Cruces proclaimed in the opening moments of the liturgy, “God knows no borders. Here we have two tables but just one altar for our Eucharist.” And yet there is the fifteen foot (or more) fence that divides us, permitting only fingertips to touch at the sign of peace. And this year the U.S. Border Patrol had officers standing every ten feet along the fence, almost to the altar itself, marking a no-man’s land between the U.S. congregation and the border.
Of course everyone visited through the fence before and after Mass. Many tears were shed as friends and families felt the physical separation.
“How is it possible to live as though there is no border?” This is the question I ask myself as I reflect on the experience. What can I do to resist everything that would have me forget my essential connection to those who live on the other side? Crossing over to Anapra a time or two each week helps me to remember. But what more can I do? Of course I can advocate for immigration reform. I do what I can to respond to the needs of immigrants on this side. But there is something powerful waiting and wanting to be done. In every decision and choice can I try to be aware of its impact on my family just across the border? Can I vision this place without a fence high enough or a river wide enough to keep my heart, mind and spirit from feeling what goes on – this side or that- as my own? Can I strive to see as God sees, without borders?