January term is a time of exploration and learning outside the classroom. The “Encuentro”, or encounter, is offered through Lutheran Seminary Program of the Southwest, in Austin, TX. Five Wartburg students went to Texas to encounter the borderlands and the people who live there. This class was centered around the political, social, pastoral, and missional aspects of immigration. This photo is taken at the banks of the Rio Grande, and the experience of the “encuentro” inspired the following poems by two Wartburg students.
Perhaps you have once stood on the edge of something new
The unknown stretches out before you
It has the opportunity for life
Than what you have lived so far.
But it is a risk to cross.
Es un riesgo, sabes?
Do you have what you need
To make it to the other side?
Here at the border places
People have experienced it all—
Loss, hope, despair, another chance.
There is a thinness here,
Where life and death are only inches apart.
Who will meet you in the beyond if you manage to cross?
You have heard the stories.
There are some who attempt this crossing six, seven times
Only to be dragged back
Half of who they used to be
Because they only crossed with their dignity,
Their human worth,
But that’s the first thing they take away over there.
But you have people who depend on you.
So you will cross.
She’s going to make it.
Si Dios quiere.
She’s going to make it because
They don’t understand how she’s already lived on the borders her whole life.
She knows the ins and outs of shadows and sunlight
Life can be found in both places.
She has already learned how to stand on both sides of the river at once
There are other ways of knowing
And other ways of surviving.
It is worth it, for the sake of her family.
It is worth it, for the sake of her soul.
With la imagen de la Virgen de Guadalupe
In front of her face, her foot touches the water and she transcends space
She overcomes the politics of boundary and finds herself on the blessed earth
Which belongs to no one but God.
Passage. The other side holds many things for her, but first,
She finds her way to a church whose doors are always open
Concrete slab on concrete slab
Another borderland entre el cielo y la tierra,
And gives thanks to God.
Hands still raised in prayer, she walks back outside on this new land, with its new rules
And is intercepted by border patrol.
And though her wrists are now shackled
As she rides in the back of the SUV to the holding facility,
she continues to pray.
Her soul is not bound.
She knows to her very core that God is faithful.
Yo estoy segura que Dios me va a liberar.