Reflections

Gary Paul Nabhan, recently interviewed by a clod of dirt

Dirt: So you occasionally write about us?

Gary: Well yes, on occasion. Why?

Dirt: What do you think entitles you to pry into our lives?

Gary: I’m not prying, exactly…I’m sort of crumbling you between my hands.

Dirt: While you are writing, you crumble us between your hands. Gads!

Gary: Only metaphorically so… teasing you apart, then rolling you back into a ball, so to speak.

Dirt: I just hate to be teased.  What gives you the license to write about us?

Gary: Well, I sort of ...

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Border Wall Construction: Imperiling Sacred Sites, Churches and Religious Freedom

Most of us have heard the devastating reports of how the new construction of a thirty-foot wall and floodlights along our southern border has begun to impact water flows, wildlife and archaeological resources long-protected by federal laws. The federal protection of endangered species, critical habitat and cultural antiquities has been waived along a three-hundred foot swath along the U.S./Mexico border. Eminent domain under the auspices of homeland security has allowed U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Army Corps of Engineers ...

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in the darkest of times where I go

in the darkest of times where I go
is to a place somehow hidden
in the midst of pain
a place where microbursts of light

breaks through to reach us

a crack of light like the very one
you may have seen on stormy days
right at dusk when darkness
tried enveloping entire skies

but failed

fails because the sun sent out a call
a grace note so bright
it cut across the horizon
right into our hearts

and sangs to us

“do not give in
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Earth Day as a Sacred Rite

What if getting our relationship right with the Earth and all its creatures is not just some scenic backdrop to a circus sideshow or diorama in a natural history museum? What if it is as crucial to our lives as getting our relations right with our Creator, our family and our neighbors before we die?

What if all of Creation is the most palpable expression of our Creator’s generosity, sense of wonder, and commitment to diversity? What happens when we begin ...

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In my dreams and nightmares, I keep coming back to those eight intense days in five states along the border.

In my dreams and nightmares, I keep coming back to those eight intense days in five states along the border — after nearly a half century of crisscrossing it — and it still feels like a changling, a chimera to me.

Is it a hard surface of discontinuity, with a sharp division of opportunities on either side of its sheet metal walls, its Normandy barriers, its anti-ram concrete blockades, its bollards and barbed wire fences? Or is the sharpness I feel ...

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We have met migrants and refugees from many Central American and Mexican landscapes who just want to be safe.

As the day approaches when a federal judge learns whether federal agencies have been able to reunite all detained families that have been separated, we hear in Las Cruces at dawn that these agencies appear to have fallen far short of their mandate. There is chaos and disappointment in the air as we talk to people from all walks of life, of different ethnicities and faiths. We have been on a listening tour on both sides of the borderlands. We ...

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Deeply Inspired by the Remarkable Food Justice and Social Commentaries from the staff at La Semilla Food Center.

How do we rekindle our hope during the darkest of times? With regard to the current crisis at our border, many of us have felt anxiety, distress, frustration and horror over the way many people have been repeatedly been treated during their efforts to gain political asylum, seek sanctuary and secure dignified livelihoods in the U.S.

Well, in Anthony, Texas today, I was deeply inspired by both the remarkable food justice work being done and the social commentaries we heard from ...

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Parts of the story of the border are hidden to most Americans.

Kristy: I am feeling that parts of the story of the border are hidden to most Americans, as if these sagas have been made “invisible” even to those of us who come to the borderlands attempting to understand it.

Gary: I think you are right about that Kristy. That’s why I am so glad that you met Enrique Madrid in Redford Texas today. A giant of a man, with his long, gray-haired ponytail and his huge heart, he is an independent ...

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We must all take an oath, to do no harm to others.

Our conversations and experiences the past few days have shown us the real harm that walls do to people and their communities. From concrete and steel to closed ports of entry, walls disrupt. They dehumanize. The lovely Boquillas del Carmen was almost destroyed when its port of entry was closed in 2002, and is making a comeback since its 2013 reopening. Borders/walls dehumanize people like Sandro, a U.S. citizen who has experienced verbal and physical at the hands of Border ...

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Border Dialogue: Monarch Butterflies, Other Migrants & the Passing of Lincoln Brower

Gary: We are being hosted by Bonnie McKinney, Wildlife Coordinator of the El Carmen Land and Conservation Co. LLC, and her partner Bill Pat not far from La Linda Coahuila, just east of Big Bend National Park. Bonnie reminds us that this private conservation reserve is the connecting link in an ecological corridor which joins the Sky Islands of the northern Chihuahuan Desert with the Sierra Madre of northern Mexico. But Bonnie also reminds us that this migratory corridor has ...

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All have stressed the need to heal the divide that is expanding between us.

Cousin Gary Nabhan and I are having an enriching, educational, and all-around incredible time here on the U.S.-Mexico border. In the past 5 days we have met with women, men, and children From Nogales to Terlingua, Texas. Aid workers, refugees, small business owners, U.S. Park Rangers, and land conservationists. White ethnics, Mexicanos, and indigenous women and men alike. All have stressed the need to heal the divide that is expanding between us. That everyone wins when we invest in and ...

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‘Put ourselves in others’ shoes, and to go beyond the sound bites.’

Gary: Where else are we seeing signs of hope along the U.S.-Mexico border?

Kristy: In the person of Marcos Paredes, a lifelong borderlander of Yaqui and Mexican descent, who worked for the U.S. Park Service and Far-Flung Adventures, Inc. for over 30 years. Today, he is President of Rio Aviation, Inc. run out of Terlingua, Texas and helps facilitate many cross-border exchanges. He is committed to maintaining mutually beneficial relationships for Americans and Mexicans on both sides of the border.

Gary: Yes, ...

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It seems that we’re beginning to hear some recurrent themes from our friends that live closest to the border.

Gary: It seems that we’re beginning to hear some recurrent themes from our friends that live closest to the border.

Kristy: I’m reflecting on that too. Remember the beautiful challenge our cousin Joe Nebhan put before us just before we left El Paso? I think he said it this way:

“There are commonly-held misconceptions about the border that are based solely upon fear, not on knowledge. I recommend to those uninitiated Americans who, for whatever reason they have not spent time here ...

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Borderland Dialogue: Day Three

Gary: Oh, what an irony: We could hardly find the Southwest Key detention center for unaccompanied minors in Tucson, but when we met our Lebanese relatives at their historic Gardner Hotel in El Paso, they had a few surprises for us, didn’t they?

Kristy: I would say so. Another Southwest Key detention center was right next to the hotel, less than 50 yards from where the rooms were that our cousins graciously offered us. The windows are all closed tight, the ...

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We were at the Annunciation House where individuals are reunited with their families.

There is a lot of compassion here in the borderlands. Borderlanders are telling us that the only way to understand the complex situation is to “Come and visit. Eat the food. Talk to people.” Indeed. We spent time this morning at the Annunciation House where individuals are reunited with their families. Incredibly moving… expectant mothers from El Salvador, a father and son from Brazil, young men from across Central America.

So many people fleeing violence and disarray yet we are feeling ...

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Borderlands Dialogues: On Empathy & Accompaniment, Part 3

Gary: Do you know what really touched me today Kristy, while you were talking to the mothers from Guatemala and Mexico who were stranded, waiting to be processed at the DeConcini Gate at the Nogales Port of Entry?

Kristy: So much of what we saw and heard there was moving to me, since it was my first time at the border there. But what moved you?

Gary: It was the excitement of the face of the 8-year old boy from Guerrero, Mexico, ...

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Borderlands Dialogues: On Empathy and Accompaniment, Part 2

Gary: Tell me, cousin Kristy, what questions are going through your head right now.

Kristy: Thanks for asking this, Gary. I am wondering how we can fathom all we are seeing and hearing here:

How can we begin to understand what is going on at the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands today? How can those of us who live far from the border grasp the complexities of movements, detainments, humanitarian outreach, and even pro-wall proponents?

So indulge me by joining with me in an exercise in ...

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Borderlands Dialogues: On Empathy and Accompaniment, Part 1

Kristy: Well, cousin, we are finally out along the border… So what do you see as our task, or tarea, for this trip?

Gary: It seems to me that the U.S./Mexico has become more politicized that at any point in its 170-year history. So perhaps our task is not to further politicize the already volatile and politically contested conditions here. Instead, we are hoping to rehumanize, rather than dehumanize the many who have been caught in the crossfire here.

Kristy: From Nogales ...

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Pilgrimage for Justice Across Borders for All Children: Preamble

When Kristy Nabhan-Warren & I set off today (celebrating her birthday along the way), we will be traveling at least 600 miles along the U.S./Mexico border in a 1500-2000 mile pilgrimage to listen to residents from both sides of the border, to stand with them as they struggle for greater justice & to find a greater context for what is going on with our current refugee crisis than radio & tv sound bites can permit. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon ...

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Pilgrimage for Justice Across Borders for All Children – She’s on your case Mr. Sessions.

Don’t talk to me about your patriotism, Mr. Sessions,
When you won’t protect our country from the Russians,
From Koreans and from hate-mongers within our own country.

We’d rather see you express some patriotism,
a touch of compassion for those who need it the most.

After all, you’re an old post-reproductive man, Mr. Sessions,
& have nothing to lose by showing your feminine side (if any)
To demonstrate your full humanness.

No ...

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