March 2019

What can you trust? Trust is one of the casualties of divisiveness, of the political chaos in Washington and other world capitals, and of increasing worry about climate change. Trust is something we must keep discovering among one another.

In April of last year we welcomed Irida as our sanctuary guest. We had voted to offer sanctuary to an immigrant facing deportation, should we be asked. We had planned and prepared. We knew the path ahead was uncharted, but we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We trusted each other to do the best we could.

Irida came to us through the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, days from a deportation hearing for which she had been told to come passport in hand. A PVWC immigration lawyer thought there were approaches to get her legal case reopened and favorably resolved. PVWC would help find someone to take her case. Laurie Loisel, Craig Dreeszen, Cathy Lilly and I met with Irida in her home, and later gathered in Cathy’s Westfield living room. Could we welcome someone with a family? How long might her stay with us last? The congregation’s trust was in our hands. We consulted our minds and listened to our hearts.

Nearly a year later, Irida is still with us. She has a good lawyer. It has taken time to compile the documents they feel will give her a strong case. They are getting close. We, and she, don’t know what the timing or outcome will be.

We and she worry about that outcome. We and she worry about the unceasing need for contributions of time and money and forbearance, about the strain on our spirits and will.

We know that Irida trusts us to continue to care and to hold her in her uncertainty and fear – the unthinkable strain on her spirits and will. What can we trust? We can trust the sustaining power of the commitment we made and are keeping. We can trust that when one of us is tired and needs respite, someone else will step forward. We can trust that our many community partners and supporters will stand with us. We can trust our values and principles, as people of faith, and our sense of justice.

I believe our work together has strengthened us as a congregation. I believe we can trust our strength. Every day, we and our community partners engage in countless acts of love as we shop and cook for, schmooze, laugh and play with, comfort and encourage and learn from Irida and her family. Countless amazing, grace-filled acts of love, both given and received. We can and must trust that love.

I am honored and grateful to be your minister.Janets signature