When I was in Nogales, there were countless migrants who asked me as they were leaving to pray for them. For their journeys to the US. For their families in Mexico or the US. They asked with such intensity – with the knowledge that praying did matter.
And I prayed. I prayed with desperation and with hope. I prayed because I would never know what happened. I prayed as an acknowledgement that their lives were out of my hands and that I could only trust in God’s power.
Often they would give me small gifts – a bracelet, a ring, a drawing of a rose, a note. And with each of these gifts they would say “so that you do not forget us.” I would be moved but also slightly amused by that statement. Of course, I could never forget my migrant friends.
But I also realized that there would be a point in my transition back to the US when living with their stories became a little more normal. When perhaps the blog posts would trickle off and my focus would become more on the here-and-now of everyday life at Georgetown. And in some ways, that is true. I am called to be present wherever I am. And that means studying and serving here in DC.
But it doesn’t mean that I stop thinking of the migrants. I remember the border every morning when I put on the bracelet and the ring. I remember my migrant friends as we talk about theoretical conceptions of the border or identity or refugees or integration policy in my classes. I remembered them vividly when I watched a documentary on Central American migrants – and recognized a migrant in one of the scenes. And of course I remember them weekly when I serve in Chirilagua or with day laborers in northeast DC.
And most of all the transition back does not mean that I stop praying. I pray for them whenever I have a meal by myself and can simply sit and remember the comedor. I pray for them on Thursday nights at mass. I pray for them for hours. I pray for them in small moments of the day whenever my memory is triggered.
If prayer in Nogales was an acknowledgement that I was powerless to control or know the futures of the migrants I met, prayer from here in DC is a realization that I do still have some power. That is to say, I believe in a powerful God who loves his people and listens to our prayers. I believe in a God who asks us to bring our petitions before Him. So I pray to him because I know that from here in DC I am called to love my migrant brothers and sisters who continue to journey.
So let us pray. I know that many of you who read this blog were praying for me and my work in the fall. Thank you for your prayers and support. But please don’t stop praying. Please continue to pray for my migrant friends. Because the journeys continue.