A Letter to Immigrants
Dear friends who are far from home,
My friends for whom English is not your “heart” language,
I am so thankful for the many ways you have taught me to think differently about life, and I am writing this letter to share a few of the places where you have widened my heart.
Thank you for being willing to keep learning new ways to say things. New languages. New idioms. Thank you for not allowing language to be a barrier in communicating. You find a way to say what you want to say, even if it’s with your hands, and I love you for it.
Thank you for immediately replying when I text you or invite you somewhere. You are not playing it cool, acting like you have better things to do or weighing your options. If you can come, you say so and if you can’t, you say that. Thank you for reminding me that I spend way too much energy trying to do the “cool” or “appropriate” thing when I should just go with my heart.
Thank you for sharing your table with me. Without you, I wouldn’t have tasted many foods that are now my favorites. Thank you for writing down recipes for me, for entrusting me with your grandmother’s cake, with your mother’s pudding.
Thank you for sharing your secrets with me, for telling me where to go to find the biggest jar of tahini I’ve ever seen, the cheapest coriander, freshly made tortillas, an insider fish market, and sushi rice in bulk.
Thank you for being willing to be a lifelong learner. You are willing to learn things that I learned as a child because I had access to infrastructures and programs that you did not. In this way you are teaching me that it is ok to be like a child in adulthood.
Thank you for showing me the dances you learned as a child in your country, for teaching me to move my hips and my feet in a new way. Thank you playing your music for me and translating the love story of the song.
Thank you for opening up your home country to me, for showing me a part of the globe I would not have seen without you.
Thank you for giving me the world.
To the group of international moms I gathered with in Aberdeen, to my language partner in Germany, to the immigrant families of our kids’ school friends in Scotland, to the international church congregations with whom I have worshiped, to my sweet friend in Seattle who first taught me to make sushi, to the students who sat alongside us in German language classes and shared meals with us afterwards, to the many folks in the world who are working to carve out a life in a new country.
I am amazed at all the lessons I have learned from you.
You are unwriting the rules I have unconsciously lived by for many years.
You make my life richer and more beautiful.
When you arrive in a new place to work, to dream, to make a life,
you truly make it great.
We need you in my country.
I am praying that there are kinder, gentler days ahead of us in America, days in which we will be welcoming immigrants instead of imprisoning and criminalizing them.
I pray that we might show even a fraction of the hospitality and grace that you have shown to me.
With love and gratitude,
I am posting this letter today as my small act of protest, a little whisper in the wilderness saying that I want to live in a world where immigrants and refugees are welcome. It is also my attempt to be in solidarity with my brothers and sisters who are in El Paso today to demand an end to placing children in detention camps.