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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

Not my story to tell

When a car runs a red light or a stop sign and crashes into the side of an unsuspecting driver, the term often used to describe the event is “t-boned”. After such an event, the victim is often left not just with physical trauma, but mental and emotional as well. The world becomes an unsafe place and danger can seem to be lurking in every shadow.

In our family, we used the term universally, especially when it came to relational and emotional areas. When a distant family member’s response to another’s vulnerability and honesty was unexpected and cruel, we would say, “That was a t-bone.” When a social issue came up where we assumed everyone was on the same page and something cruel and expected came out of somebody’s mouth instead, that was a “t-bone”. If instead of expected love, we received intentional harm, it was a t-bone.

And lately, I feel like a walking car crash.

It is not because people are cruel, though they can be. It is not because anything is going on in my social relationships, though sometimes there can be. No, it is because, though I should expect no different, our culture has been crashing into my recent new vehicle, and I am always unprepared.

This new car is different from my old one. My old car was safe and unnoticeable. I drove around in it and had conversations with myself about the state of the world, and then I drove to the mountains or to the vast sea and walked and talked with God and everything was good,because my world revolved around the thoughts in my head and my perceived notions about the world and its occupants.

But this new vehicle was built on confronting reality and not safety and escape. This new vehicle has four wheel drive, with the top down in the heat and the wind and the dust. Its views of the desert are not of sunrises and sunsets over a manicured path, but of rocky ravines and desiccated river beds.

This new vehicle does not just read headlines and plaster bandaids and frolick off into an interior life of peace and security in solitude on well marked roads.

My old car touted the value of social justice. But it only received dings in the parking lot. Here, every time I get into the new vehicle, the side of it gets destroyed.

I cannot drive down a road without encountering a cross where hope died crossing the desert, often steps away from civilization…more often in remote places, unforgiving places…inhumane places to die. I cannot unsee the images that surround us here in the borderlands. Nor can I unhear the despicable responses to the sufferings of others.

T-boned. Every day.

As hard as this is, I have lived here less than two years. Others have been driving their battered vehicles through these deserts for decades, tending to the lost, the thirsty, and the bruised and never giving up hope for a more just world until it becomes one.

I had breakfast with a road warrior like that. Decades of driving through these desert roads, tending to the broken hearted, building bridges where others build walls. I felt the warmth of her spirit and sang baby shark to her granddaughter. She shared her vision for the work she does for a more just world. She promised to send a public documentary video of her life story.

I would never want anyone to be experience being t-boned in reality, but today, I am inviting you to be t-boned in your spirit and watch the short documentary at the end of this post. Hear the story, her story, and let it wash over you into any dry places you might have when it comes to issues around the border and immigrants.

Hear the story of someone who lived the headlines, and now, even knowing the dangers, has been cruising through the intersections anyway, because being on the road matters. No matter the cost.

It is her story to tell. I could never do it justice.

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