I did not expect this.
The angel had warned me in a dream.
We had to leave.
I packed us up in the night.
Herod’s men were coming with their swords drawn.
We were barely out of town
when we heard the cries of
women and children.
I thought I had done right.
I thought I had done well.
I thought my family would be safe.
And yet the angel said nothing of this.
I am here in this place.
Locked up. Awaiting a hearing.
They say I will probably be deported back.
They say I have no case, that my fear is not credible.
Tell that, I say, to the other families who buried their children that night.
I cannot talk to Mary.
They’ve taken her to another center.
We came for safety.
We came for life.
We came for protection.
Now they say they are going to send us back.
In my dreams, I hear Mary weeping.
In my dreams, I hear my son calling for me.
How will we find each other again?
Our son is too young to even know our names,
too young to even know his own.
What does he make of what has happened?
Does he think we’ve abandoned him?
Is someone rocking him to sleep tonight?
Is someone singing him a lullaby?
Is someone cradling him in their arms?
Will he be sent back too?
Will he be back for the next round of soldiers that come through?
Or will he be adopted here by another family?
Will he be raised as Jason or Jeffrey or Jeremy?
Will he know why we came?
Will he know who he is?
Who we are?
Will someone tell him of this terrible time?
Will someone help him find us?
I wonder if I should have ignored the angel?
Should we have ignored the Magi?
Should we have stayed in Bethlehem?
Should I have fought the Romans?
Would it have been better to die together?
Would it have been better to have fought the good fight,
than to be here, wherever here is, separated from my wife, separated from our child?
When I close my eyes, I see us being separated from one another.
My cry catches in my throat. . .
No one seems to hear my pleas.
No one seems to care about my plight.
The angel did not tell me about this part of the journey,
He just said, “Take your family and go.”
And I listened.
I had thought we’d be safe here.
I had thought I had done the right thing.
I had thought we’d be protected.
Now I do not know what to think. . .
Now I wonder why I listened . . .
Now a new cry goes out . . .
Do you hear me?
Do you care?
I am not no one.
I am not dispensable.
I am Joseph,
husband of Mary,
father of Jesus.
Hear my plea.
Save us now!
Rev. Dawn Adams is a member of the Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team in the historic Massachusetts Conference, and pastor of First Congregational Church in Brimfield, MA
For more information on the number of children that have been separated from their parents and what has happened to the subsequently to those that have been separated in the past visit https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/family-separation
For more information on the impacts of the separation of children from their parents: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6173255/
Dawn Adams is a member of the Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team, and pastor of First Congregational Church of Brimfield, UCC (MA).