I always identified with Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" clicking her ruby slippers together in an effort to get home. Home has always been a sacred, safe place to come to after a weary day. As someone relatively priveledged, my parents always had a welcoming space that was cool in the summer, warm in the winter, stocked with food, and filled with love. I went away to college, spent time overseas, moved across the country, but HOME was always there to return to.
When I graduated and could not find a job for several months, I had no place to live. I moved home, to find my parents were selling the house. I suddenly felt lost, abandoned, in a sea of chaos. I had nowhere to go. No place to call home. I am by no means comparing this situation to the plight of the refugee, but the sense of home certainly ties into one's identity, a need for safety and belonging. When the place of refuge is taken away, one's psyche begins to float like a balloon in the wind. One feels tossed about, battered and lost.
My heart has always broken for the homeless, those who must wander aimlessly, nowhere to lay their heads. And worse yet, for the refugees. Having a place to sleep does not a home make, and the conditions of the shelters and camps are stark and bare. To see women carrying babies, no older than my own son, in the cold and rain and sleeping in makeshift tents, is a human rights issue. We cannot let this happen.
Just as my parents always had a warm place for me to return, we, as a community of global neighbors, need to open a place for these displaced people. When one human hurts, we all hurt. The Jewish world, Shalom, means wellness, peace, and health for all. It means we are all connected, and that I cannot have peace and wellness if my sister doesn't.
Such is this case. There is an organization called World Relief (http://www.worldrelief.org) that is partnering with local churches in the US and helping refugees. Part of the program involves volunteers in local cities in the United States partnering with a refugee family, assisting in welcoming them into their new city and helping them acclimate to their new environment. With organizations like this, and helping hearts, we can make a difference for those facing conflict and displacement around the world.
Let's welcome them home.