rain and moon, refugees and stones

I don’t care that I’m getting drenched, that rain is dropping on my face, clinging to my lashes, nose and chin. I'll be dry and warm soon. Out here, the air is fresh and clean, so I take it in as most I can, so much so I feel it in my fingertips. I walk past the same candlelit house I ducked into last night, unannounced, where I gave everyone a hug, sat on John’s lap and gave his husband Mark a kiss, where Luz and Marcos tried to serve me up a glass of wine and a dish of food, and where Lauren sat, smelling of the roses reflected in her cheeks.

All these wonderful people in such a small place, I thought, grateful of my tight-knit town of gay and straight, black and white and brown, Guatemalan, Mexican, Native American, Somalian, French-Canadian, Asian, European, Californian, New Jerseyan, young and old—the list goes on.

This rain is cleansing, particularly to my soul, which I leave open and unguarded. Some might warn me of an assault, my heart some kind of guileless target, but instead, its spongy muscle is sopping with love and compassion for that which some regard as other.

Did Calvin teach me this?

On my walk home in the dark, raindrops dancing in puddles like electric ants, I consider the recent vitriol spewing from the mouths of those with hardened hearts filled with hatred fueled by fear and ignorance. How difficult is it to imagine our ancestors’ families fleeing to this land to escape persecution, war and famine? Why do some of us feel so entitled to hoard this chunk of earth we like to call our own? Why are some so quick to blame those who look different, speak a different tongue, wear different clothes? Can't people realize we all come from the very same cosmos? All of us—the world over—love our children, love this earth, love each other. Every faith and culture has its fanatics, even Christians.

If there is a God, might there be just one?

Looking up, the clouds begin to break and the moon peeks through—the same moon illuminating hungry refugees drenched inside their tiny boats, shivering in the same water that will touch these shores, the same moon which glows off the faces of frightened children, weary mothers and desperate fathers who have fled a plight worse than we can ever know, while my Calvin sleeps in a cozy bed, safe and warm.

As the rain falls, now mere drops from the bows of trees, a dark stranger in a hoodie draws near. I tell him not to fear my dog, that she is friendly. A handsome, swarthy face peers out into the streetlight’s beam, his young smile reflecting mine. I assume he is a college student on his way home or to the library to read.

“I thought she was afraid of me,” he says with a foreign accent and a sparkle in his eyes while reaching out to let Nellie sniff his hand.

My impulse is to invite him to Thanksgiving. I chuckle and wish him goodbye, so grateful that he, and others like him, have come to this most homogeneous state, have graced my presence and enriched this town, its faint mélange my salvation. And in my effort to find metaphor I think of those refugee boats, of oars, of life rings and savers. Then, I think of the rope that pulls these boats ashore, strong because it's braided with different fibers, each relying on and bracing its neighbor, and in case one strand breaks, the rope maintains integrity. The same goes for the fabric of society; our history of immigrants, of refugees, has made our nation what it is, which, though not perfect, is great in so many ways.

And we mustn't ever forget upon whose captured backs and bloody sweat this very nation was shaped: the slaves.

The rain hasn't ceased, it has just moved on and soon will be drenching the backs of children who have no dry clothes, no food, no shelter, no country to call home. And yet some of us, in our warm castles and in glass houses, are bent on building walls, fueling fear and hate, blaming others, and throwing stones.

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