Blisters of privilege, prayers of choice


My blistered feet entering an allegedly healing pool.

They were sometimes like a hot knife plunged into my lower extremities, at other times, simply walking on broken glass. My blisters during the first two weeks of my Camino were horrible. One day, Sue and I entered the town of Villafranca Montes de Oca and I simply had to stop walking. It was too much, I could not take the pain. What happened next is a long story for another day, just let it suffice to say, my feet were wrecked. Would I be able to continue my Camino? (Spoiler alert for new readers, thanks be to God, I did.)

With nearly every blistered step I took, I was aware of how privileged I was to even be in this situation. All I could think about when my feet, my knees, or general tiredness bothered me was that I chose to be where I was. Not so far away from me, migrants were to be found all over Europe. The vast majority of them fled their homes, not by choice, not due to any luxury, but due to violence, hunger, the threat of war, and the ever-present reality of death. I tried to pray with and for them with every painful footfall, even after my blisters were overall healed.

Today isA Day Without Immigrants” here in the US. Here is some of what the link says:

The campaign, spread on social media and messaging apps, has called for a “day without immigrants.” It asks foreign-born people nationwide, regardless of legal status, not to go to work or go shopping in a demonstration of the importance of their labor and consumer spending to the United States’ economy.

I am going to work, but I remain in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from other lands.

quote-migrants-and-refugees-are-not-pawns-on-the-chessboard-of-humanity-pope-francis-89-55-85My position does not mean that I think we should just open the borders without regulation. There’s a problem in our social media world, found along the spectrum of fake news, hyperbolic expressions of hyperbole. Thus, many of us might be led to believe that at any given moment a flood of humanity is pouring over our southern border, but studies show that there have been declines.  I know, I know – there are numbers to show everything.

Many say, that we just can’t sustain the number of people who are leeching our resources. I’m not so quick to go that way, especially when leeching of resources can often come from the top end of society – but hey, that’s another post for another day.

Of course, there are the many people who come here and work hard, harder than Americans in some cases, typically doing jobs that no one else would do. And for less money than most would accept. If we wholesale started mass deportations, certain sectors of the economy would collapse. (Not that that makes low wages and terrible conditions OK for undocumented workers.) This is why we are marking today as a #

“Migration today is not a phenomenon limited to some areas of the planet. It affects all continents and is growing into a tragic situation of global proportions. Not only does this concern those looking for dignified work or better living conditions, but also men and women, the elderly and children, who are forced to leave their homes in the hope of finding safety, peace and security.”-Pope Francis World Day of Migrants and Immigrants 2017

So where does this leave us? Perhaps as a nation, we could begin to have conversations that did not begin with did not begin and end with fear. And for those of us who profess to follow Christ, that is even more pressing.


If you support immigrant justice today, keep doing whatever it is you are doing. If you are challenged by the situation, here are some thoughts. In fact these thoughts are helpful to all of us, no matter what our opinion or belief!

  1. Pray – it is that simple
  2. Scripture – see what God has to say (there will be a video at the end to give you a hand)
  3. Put yourself in the shoes of another. What if you had to flee your home overnight and seek refuge in another land?
  4. What would you do to provide for your children and loved ones?
  5. Worried about law and order? We should all be, but can law and order sometimes make it difficult to do the right thing? Just become something is legal  does not mean it is moral. Can the reverse hold true?
  6. Consider using the term undocumented workers, or undocumented immigrants instead of things like illegal aliens. These are our brothers and sisters, all made in the same image of God as we are.

All I know is that when I had to walk across a country, it was due to the privilege of choice. And when I had that great privilege, all I could think of was those who did it without any of the comfort or choice that was given to me. My prayers were, and remain, focused on them.

There is a great deal to consider, but sharing our basic humanity is a good start. What else can we do? There are only so many walls and borders to fortify, but the ones in our hearts are the starting place for justice, mercy, and love. Which will we choose?


2 thoughts on “Blisters of privilege, prayers of choice

  1. Thanks Fran! When we had our retail store in Jackson heights, Queens, we were in a multi racial, multi ethnic neighborhood. We would hear from some folks, “I’m glad that some of our own have a business here”. My response was “do you know any of your ‘own’ who want to or have encouraged their children to do something that involves working 12 to 18 hour days without holidays off”. Usually I got confused or hostile stares. The business owners in this neighborhood were primarily Asian or Hispanic and were hard working, caring individuals. I have no idea if they were ‘legal’ or undocumented and didn’t really care. This whole administration has me so upset. Trying to get back to Centering Prayer in the hope of calming down We’ll see.


  2. A great piece Fran and James Martin´s video at the end was just perfect. I don´t know what the response of the clergy to the resurgence of xenophobia in the US has been but, from my own experience, the European clergy has been quite muted. We all need to be more vocal in our opposition to these trends and those with a platform have an even greater responsibility. I´m very much an advocate of “applied theologian”. Applying the teaching of Christ and loving your neighbour does not really come at a more basic level that holding out a helping hand to an asylum seeker or refugee. It certainly does not amount to shutting our doors in their faces.


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