At Thistle Farms, we remember that we have all found ourselves in the ditch, and it has taken a Stranger to get us out. Now, we seek to be that Stranger for the next woman coming off the streets. We have no idea who she will be, but we welcome her into the Circle, thinking of the Stranger as God.
In light of the Syrian refugee crisis, we remember that, at one time or another, we have all been strangers to each other. In Part II of our Seeking Refuge series, Rev. Becca Stevens' words remind us of our identities as Strangers.
An excerpt from “Scars,” a chapter from Funeral for a Stranger by Rev. Becca Stevens
In my life it has been strangers who have led me out of deserts and side paths. I have been rescued from the ditch several times by compassionate strangers I have met along life’s roads. That is why when two women from the Sudan walked into my office last fall, I was glad for the opportunity to be a good Samaritan to others, and I tried to greet them as friends. I could tell they needed a stranger to offer a little help.
They had been on a long and arduous journey from a bloody war that had created an entire generation of refugees. They told about the death of most of their family, the destruction of their village, the separation from their siblings and friends, their flight to Egypt and the brutality they faced, the process of becoming refugees, and their arrival in the United States. Now, years later, when the women were living safely in Nashville with their own children, they were feeling called to return to their village and build a school for the orphans of war. They said that God had been merciful to them, and this was an expression of their gratitude. Having been given mercy from the war, they needed to make meaning out of all the suffering. The scars on their legs were reminders that none of us can walk fast enough to get away from the pain.
While they were describing their arduous journey, the old prayer welled up in me: “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” I prayed that God would forgive my arrogance and indifference to all the suffering strangers called refugees and that God would allow me to hear the cry of others. We made arrangements for their journey home, making sure they had gifts to offer their neighbors when they returned.