Arizona sat across the table from me at Union Station last night. More specifically, Jim Wiltbank, pastor of St Francis in the Foothills UMC, here in DC for a couple of days for meetings on behalf of those currently in sanctuary within churches...I wrote about meeting Francisco during my time in Tucson a couple of months ago, a gentle and humble man seeking to have his final deportation orders removed that he can safely remain with his family. In Francisco's case, he clearly falls under eligibility of the President's recent executive order: He has been in the United States for 18 years, has five children who are US citizens and has the same job for over a decade. The problem is that the executive order won't begin to come into play for another six months and without some sort of documentation that protects Francisco from being deported...well, it is much safer for Francisco in Arizona to remain inside St Francis in the Foothills. So last night over double chocolate chip cookies and bottled water, Jim and I caught up on the past couple of months. He shared about the meetings that had happened, the upcoming meetings of today with DHS, and how Francisco is doing. I talked about my recent move to Reston (only a week and a half ago!) and I confessed I found it hard to share about my time in Arizona; that it felt risky, that I was wrestling with the songs to write, what to say, when to say it.
The strength of Jim Wiltbank is most profoundly felt through his encouragement. Mormon missions turned elementary school teacher turned Methodist pastor, this man understands the power of relationship, listening and good stories. He told me the best adventures are ones where we jump and build our wings as we fall....so SCARY!
I'm not sure why I've been holding so tightly to the story of my time in Arizona. Maybe I don't like how vulnerable it makes me feel? How broken I still am that people die in the desert? That I find articles like this one to be unacceptable practices. I tucked it away under the guise of life and moving and taking on a new job. But the past month and a half peeled away as I sat with Jim last night. It didn't matter that we were in the nation's capital, thousands of miles away, sixty degrees colder....my heart was flooded with the moments of the desert.
Friends, may we not shy away from the risky things God calls us to, may we lean in and press on.