Welcome to the second guest post in a new-and-improved version of the the Practice Resurrection series!
I’ve invited several friends and acquaintances to share a snapshot of their lives during the weeks of Eastertide (between now and Pentecost Sunday, June 9th). As in other series of guest posts, I pray about who to invite and for this series I was contemplating the ways these women and men consistently invite us through their social media presence to regularly consider restoration, beauty, and goodness even, and maybe especially, in the face of difficulty.
I haven’t had the privilege of meeting today’s guest in real life, but I’ve come to appreciate her deeply. In the past couple of years that immigration issues have been in the headlines more prominently, I’ve tried to discern the voices that engage well the intersection of public policy, human suffering, current headlines, and our Christian call for allegiance to the Kingdom of Jesus above all others. Sarah Quezada is the voice that’s become one of the most valuable to me at this intersection. If you’re looking for a trustworthy teacher in this conversation, go sign up for her weekly newsletter right now.
Sarah graciously accepted my invitation to share snapshots her life inspired by Wendell Berry’s poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”. To help us all get a bit more familiar with the masterpiece, I asked each contributor to include a simple recording of themselves reading the poem out loud to us.
Here’s Sarah reading us the poem from her porch. She has such a lovely reading voice so make sure you turn on the sound!
Ask the questions that have no answers.
There are so many things I do not understand. My mind fills with questions, not the least of which is "Where is God?" But I find myself hearing only one response. God is near to the broken-hearted. God is present. In every sorrow, in every joy, in every unanswered question, God is present.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Sometimes we build and create under trees we didn't plant. Enjoy the good gifts God - and those who've walked our ground before us - have offered us.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Things fall down. Even tall, beautiful trees can lay down across our path. One part of me grieves this death of something strong and statuesque. Another part of me watches as its regal falling allows two kids to rise to new heights, to experience their strength and grow.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
Parenting has been a constant reminder to me that life is up and down. I want the cuddles and the giggles, but more often than not, it feels like it the days are met with laundry, snacks, and meltdowns. But even when we know the facts, we cannot help but laugh with the joyful moments. Each day is filled with the good and the hard. So we expect what feels like the end of the world. And we laugh, too.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute.
Life is hard. Do everything you can to create.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
"I saw God's presence when I was arrested."
A woman we met on our trip to Oaxaca shared her story of leaving Honduras after her son was threatened by gang members. She told us how she and her children had been separated from her husband during the journey. (It seemed they had later found each other again.) They were waiting in Oaxaca, trusting God for their next steps.
Someone asked where she had witnessed God's presence on her trip. That's when she gave God the glory for her arrest. My jaw dropped.
She said she hadn't eaten in several days and was near passing out when she was apprehended. She spent about a week in immigration detention in Mexico - eating and sleeping - before being released.
I think somewhere along the way I internalized a theology that I think now may be "Prosperity Gospel Lite." I don't expect wealth and power and influence if I follow God.
But I do expect average. I expect a baseline level of comfort, security, and ease. When something happens that ricochets me too far from the middle, I'm all "Where are you, God?!? What is happening?!?"
But lately, I've been thinking about this arrest testimony and the profound faith I've witnessed among the poor in the States. And it's got me thinking that that perhaps what's not surprising is the injustice, the pain, the suffering. It's the world humans have built. Yet God is constantly present, showing up in moments of grace and mercy.
Collectively, we chose darkness. But the light keeps showing up and breaking through.
It's easy to be distracted by the color and cacophony around us. Even the light at the end of the tunnel can draw our focus. Sometimes, though, if we look up, we will see light.
Sarah Quezada writes about social justice, immigration, faith, and living across cultures. Her first book Love Undocumented: Risking Trust in a Fearful World was published in January 2018. Her writing has also been featured on Christianity Today, Relevant, Sojourners, ChurchLeaders.com, Off the Page, and elsewhere.
Sarah’s husband Billy emigrated from Guatemala City, and they met and married in Los Angeles. Together, they've walked through complex U.S. immigration system and delightfully enjoy the humor and craziness of a cross-cultural, bilingual relationship.
The Quezada’s home is in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, where they try to be good neighbors and engage in Christian community development. They love the CCDA (Christian Community Development Association), and Sarah is a member of their Emerging Leaders cohort.
During the Spring of 2019, Sarah and her family are living in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where they’ve founded Bridge, a job creation initiative that is creating building products from recycled materials.
Sarah and Billy have two kids - Gabriella and Isaac - and they are trying their best to raise them bicultural and trilingual-ish. To that end, they speak as much Spanglish as possible at home, and they study Mandarin in school.
(You can see all the Practice Resurrection 2019 guest posts here.)