by Christine Sine
I am writing just before I get on the plane in Sydney to head back home to Seattle. Reconnecting to family I have not seen for 3 years is extremely meaningful, reconnecting to the country in which I grew up almost as much so. This is the place that anchors my soul.
How grateful I am for two countries to call home – the land of my birth and the land in which I now live. And how grateful I am for family in Australia, and the delight of friends in the U.S. who have become like family. My life is indeed full of many blessings
However as I sit here I am aware that many do not have these blessings. Here in Australia fueled by high temperatures, hot winds and dry conditions, fires are sweeping through vast portions of land burning houses and leaving many homeowners devastated. Some have lost their lives as they try to protect their property.
And in so many parts of the world others have lost life and property not just to fires, floods and other natural disasters, but also to war, greed, and economic pressures. The number of migrants sitting at borders or in refugee camps hoping for a new home is at an unprecedented level. Others are ending up on the streets with no hope of a place to call home.
All of this flits through my mind as I admire the beautiful artwork of my friend Naomi Lawrence, a stunningly gifted yarn bomber who lives in New York and who uses her artwork to bring beauty to some of the darkest corners of Harlem. Her latest creation, a community effort that she facilitated, depicts the Monarch butterfly, a butterfly that flies thousands of miles from Mexico to Canada each year – from one home to another. She posted it on instagram with the caption “All humans have the right to migrate. All migrants have human rights.”
It was particularly impacting for me because it was installed on the day that we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. On the same day I read an article about how after years of steep decline the Monarch butterflies migrating this year has dramatically increased. We are not out of the woods yet but it is encouraging to see that things can change if we make an effort.
What else can we change I wonder? Can we provide homes for all the migrants and the refugees and still maintain a healthy thriving country? I think we can. Just as butterflies pollinate plants as they feed so I think migrants bring fresh ideas that enrich our culture.
After all my own family came to Australia as refugees in the early 1900s and over the last century have made a significant and very positive contribution to the country I call home.
As we look towards Christmas part of what we are reminded of is that the One we follow was a refugee. He was also a homeless person yet his enrichment of our lives and our cultures is immeasurable.
As we give thanks for our own homes at this season, how can we remember those who have no homes?
What is Your Response
Take a few minutes to examine the beautiful artwork that Naomi has created. What catches your attention? Think about the Monarch butterfly and its incredible migration from Mexico to Canada and back. Prayerfully consider what God might say to you through this story.
Now think of the migrants and refugees who inhabit our world. What about them catches your attention? In what ways could you help welcome them into your country and your community?
Now think about Jesus. Read through the story of the flight into Egypt in Matthew 2L13-18 What catches your attention? What do you think would have happened if they had not been able to flee to Egypt? Prayerfully consider this story and ask God how it impacts your understanding of refugees.