In her lovely new book, “Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy,” Anne Lamott retells the story of a village in Senegal whose water supply had dried up. The women of the village, having seen a vision of a lake beneath the sand of their arid area, tried to convince the men to allow them to dig. After initial resistance the men relented, let go of their rigid gender roles, and allowed the women to dig (although the men were still skeptical).

[The women] dug deeper, and deeper. Deep is so un-American now, even radical. We live too often like water skeeters on the surface of the pond, dropping down for a quick bite of insect or e-mail. Deep is the realm of the soul. (p. 116)

They dug for a year, and did not lose hope. The women dug and dug, and now their villages – and 16 surrounding villages --are supplied with a well and a water system and irrigation for their crops. They began in a circle, seeking a solution and listening. “There is such a depth to listening, and an exchange, like an echo from inside a canyon....” (p. 113). And they ended in transformed roles, new expectations, and renewed, flourishing life.

Going deep is so difficult. Going deep is the only thing that will save us. There is such a temptation in our social media saturated world to skip along the surface of the pond, responding to every tweet, Instagram or snapchat, getting emotionally wrecked by the shallow but intense news. I am filled with gratitude for all the deep dives in our congregation: our Green Team, member care team, mission team, each deeply committed and grounded.

One other small group of KMUCC members has been seeking to go deep on an issue of pressing concern. We are participating in the IMIrJ (Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice) Sanctuary Cohort program. This initiative brings together leadership teams from faith communities across the Portland Metro area to learn about immigrant issues, and to go deep exploring what it means to build, be, and offer sanctuary. The KMUCC leadership team is open--we’d love to have more members -- and the exploration is open-hearted and open minded. We have certainly not reached any conclusions about what to recommend for our community – participation could mean anything from offering space for educational events, to accompanying undocumented persons to court, to providing financial assistance to a faith community housing someone while their case is being adjudicated.

The leadership team will bring the conversation and everything we’ve learned to the whole congregation in the coming months. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to explore the resources available on the IMIrJ website (http://imirj.org/) and to begin thinking about the arrival story of your own families. When and how did you or your ancestors arrive in this country? What challenges did your people face in this place? Who told your ancestors they could (or must) settle here? How hard was it for them to become “American?” What does it mean to you to be “American?”

As we go deep into the question of immigration in America let’s pray and talk and listen together. Remembering how Jesus said, “when I was a stranger, you welcomed me,” let’s consider how we are called to welcome the stranger in a time of intimidation and uncertainty.

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