Doing the Splits…by Bethany Dearborn

by Christine Sine

I never was able to do the splits. It hurts and doesn’t seem like it should be humanly possible. In many ways in life, I feel like I’m often trying to do the splits between the different worlds that I straddle–being ‘bridge-builders’ we call it at Tierra Nueva. Whether its Skagit and Seattle, charismatic and social justice, jail and the church ‘on the outs’, communities of new Mexican immigrants and primarily Anglo communities, and now India and the USA.Untitled

I now am home, or back in the US. Since I was born, I’ve actually felt at home in many places not represented by my passport. The differences, as always are stark…
I stand staring at Trader Joe’s cheese section–once again shocked by the choices

I walk the streets at dusk–amazed that I can go blocks without seeing a person or a moving car.
I throw my laundry into two different machines and its done in a couple of hours.
I drink from the tap, wash veggies from the tap, and brush my teeth from the tap.
I shower, whenever I want, with hot water–always.
And these are just the minor differences.
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to doing the splits. Sure the stark differences always fade with time, but I think it will always hurt a bit. Or at least can feel like I’m pulling at two different bungee cords, trying to connect them, and they’re not quite long enough so just keep snapping back to place.

I wrote the below poem while I was in India, living in a very different neighborhood, my heart breaking with the reality of thousands (millions?) of families living outdoors and thousands who sell their bodies day anUntitled2d night. Maybe by sharing these glimpses, I’m inviting you to hold these worlds in tension and help me bring them together.

India, will things change?
Will the homeless families who live on the streets ever move indoors?
There’s a couple who live outside just kitty corner to me,
Bedmat raised on bricks, Kali icon on the wall,
More bricks making a stove for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Their home between two parked cars.

It’s getting cold. Even here.
Another family round the corner.
Thin blankets and cement sidewalks.
Body heat to warm the three small ones,
Huddled between ma and baba.

Her eyes look up at me as I walk by,
One afternoon after nap time.
Yes, I see you young one.
But I have no answers for you.
Only my cry to God: Have mercy, Come Jesus Come!

That is my refrain in this land,
As I walk by haunted eyes and haunting Kali temples,
Broken men curled up on sidewalks and dogs limping with broken bones,
Hungry faces…are they also hungry for change?
Or have they lost all hope?

India, will things change?

Across the street, 24-7,
Women of all ages ‘work the line’.
10,000 in this city,
Waiting for customers
Night after night.

“Live for today,
Today is all we have.”
I too want to live in the present,
But not without hope for restoration.
Come Jesus Come!

That is my refrain in this land,
As I try to ‘see from God to the problem, not from the problem to God’.
I’m hungry for change–for healing, restoring, reconciling Kingdom change.
So, Loving God, you who crossed the boundaries,
Come break again these dividing walls.

Originally posted at


Bethany Dearborn co-directs Tierra Nueva’s Family Support Center, coming alongside farmworker families as they navigate life in the US.  She is also a member of the leadership council, a women’s jail chaplain, and is involved in local human trafficking and immigrant rights coalitions. She is passionate about participating in God’s Kingdom through engaging in holistic advocacy and discipleship of those who are marginalized by society; as well as mobilizing grassroots community efforts that address unjust systems.

She blogs at

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