By Karen Tousley Hutchinson of Loveland, CO, USA
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you. —Psalm 5:11 NRSV
The Eurasian collared dove is a new bird in Colorado. People accidentally introduced them into the United States, and they spread throughout the country. I do not do anything to attract them, but they thrive in my neighborhood. They have a mournful cry and are rarely quiet.
Late in the year, one nested in a flowerpot on my balcony. The newcomer did not follow the seasonal pattern of local birds. Did she not know it was late to be nesting and raising a brood of babies? Didn’t she realize cold weather was approaching? Every morning I sat on my balcony and watched. Within two weeks two hatchlings were making a racket as they demanded food. Mother dove responded well.
These birds are foreigners to our land. They do not know local “bird rules,” but the dove persisted and managed to fledge them before the weather turned too cold.
We hear more about bird sanctuaries than people sanctuaries. When people exist as foreigners in the land, do we try to make it less strange for them? When their traditions and culture feel strange to us, do we accept and embrace the differences? It is a stretch to move from birds to human beings, but with God’s help, I hope we can accept and help “strangers” prepare for the winter we know to expect. I hope we can offer sanctuary ministry for them.
My brothers and sisters hate me
just because I’m not like them.
I am foreign, stranger, alien, immigrant.
They make assumptions,
accuse me falsely.
When will they know me?
When will they love me?
For this, must I continue to wait?
—Lu Mountenay (based on Psalm 69)
Prayer for Peace
Lord, prepare us to be sanctuaries, holy places where we deny no one at the table, safe places where fear is unknown, where justice and peace are practiced.
Meditate on Unity in Diversity. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace. Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “dangerous” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep us from loving one another.
Today, God, I will see people as you see them.