Finding Joy in the Brokenness

Inside the Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral

Two nights ago, I had trouble sleeping. I try to be in bed by 9 so I can read to unwind.

Lights out by 10, at the very latest.

Last night, I was still wide awake at 10:20.

I slept for a bit until 11:02.

Tossing and turning, the next thing I noticed was that it was past midnight and I was still up.

Frustrated and confused, I gave up at that point.

I unplugged my phone from the charger and started scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. Checked my email. Messaged a friend, telling him that I couldn’t sleep and that I think it was because I spent too much time reading the news. I must have fell asleep at some point because I didn’t read his reply until I woke up this morning.

A few months ago, I visited a close friend who lives and volunteers full-time at a house of hospitality on the El Paso and Juárez border. She lives and works with individuals and families that cross the border, and also leads immersion trips for college and other groups that stay at their house. The house she works at runs entirely on donations and volunteers, like her.

In light of recent events, my mind keeps revisiting my experience there. Many of the young women I met had children.
Are they all okay? Are they still together? Are they scared to leave the house? How about their husbands in detention centers, some over an hour away. Are they aware of what is happening outside?

I try to put myself in their shoes and I can only imagine how they are feeling.

Trapped and fear come to mind, but again, I can only imagine.

On one of the days I was there, my friend and I walked across the border to Juárez. We visited the Cathedral and spent the day walking around while eating our paletas and churros.

The best popsicle I have ever had in my life.

While we had a fun day, the privilege we had of crossing the border as we pleased, while the guests in the house could not, lingered in my mind. It isn’t fair how we can be on either side of the border, simply due to circumstances based on luck. My friend is a US citizen. I have been a permanent resident for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember too much of the process, other than the fact that my parents told me that it was lengthy and expensive.

Disneyland churros are better, but the Hershey’s syrup made up for my slight disappointment.

I keep going back to that day. My sticky fingers from the chocolate syrup on the churros, to quietly praying and sitting among Mexican women. The stained glass windows with its intricate designs made me smile and think of my mom.
I remember excitedly snapping a picture so I could show my mom when I returned home.

Focusing on this day is my way of coping with the overwhelming and heartbreaking news of children being separated from their parents at the border. It’s easy to conclude that our world is crumbling and the divide between “us” and “them” is ever increasing.

I don’t know how memories of chocolate-drizzled churros and a cathedral grounds me, but it does. I am reminded that there is still joy to be found and felt in our broken world. It is this joy that allows me to refuel my hope; hope that there is still more good than evil. Hope that we can all come together to create justice.

Even though Trump signed an executive order stopping this practice yesterday (6/20), they have not started to reunite children with their parents. I do think public and political pressure will start this process, and in the meantime, I will continue to support both small and large organizations in Texas that are working tirelessly to reunite children with their parents.

I’m so grateful for Marie for sharing her life in El Paso with me and for all the work she and other Annunciation House volunteers continue to do to be an advocate for the migrants who show up at their door.

To learn more about A-house, please visit:

Other small organizations (shared from an Annunciation House volunteer via Facebook):

Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center

ALDEA – The People’s Justice Center

Santa Fe Dreamers Project

Al Otro Lado

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

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