a train rides away with immigrants hanging off the sides.

Feature photo by Peter Haden, Central American migrants find quarter in southern Mexico.

by Rev. Dr. Daisy L. Machado

Next week the United States celebrates Thanksgiving and as students share with me their plans for going home to be with family I began to think about the particular circumstances around this year’s Thanksgiving holiday. Despite the variety of myths and interpretations that have been absorbed by Thanksgiving it still retains a most powerful connection to home and family which is ultimately to talk about belonging.

And so, I have been thinking about this strong appeal to “home”, to “family”, and to “belonging” and my mind went to the that large caravan of people from Central America who are slowly, painfully, making their way to the U.S. southern border hoping to be able to check into one of the immigration stations to request asylum. These immigrants like us, yearn for home and yearn to belong. Still they continue their long and difficult and dangerous journey, even if they will be met at the border with a military force because, unlike us, they have no choice.

So, thinking about home and belonging and the realities of this caravan I want to invite you to think with me about those who today are walking to el norte at this Thanksgiving season. And I want to share the words of a poem called “Home” written by the Somali poet Warsan Shire. I chose this poem because it helps to explain why this caravan must walk, why they must journey as they harbor the same deep yearnings of all human beings for home and belonging.

Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay…

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

… i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i don’t know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.

(for complete poem click visit: facinghistory.org/standing-up-hatred-intolerance/warsan-shire-home)

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