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We shall walk through the valley in peace, we shall walk through the valley in peace.
For Jesus himself will be our leader. We shall walk through the valley in peace.
Spiritual composed by A.L. Hatter
This spiritual, made well known by Moses Hogan has words that repeat like a mantra. Its lyrics call forth imagery of Psalms 23:4. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.” The scripture never speaks to the actual safety of the valley, just the resolve of one facing it. Do you feel safe?
As I think of this song, scripture, and question, I see in my mind hopeful beings resolute in making it through dangerous “valleys,” places like deserts. I think of the mantras they might recite to themselves to keep moving and keep believing that the hope that prompted their journey is not in vain.
I think of those who aim to be the presence of God in the valley by leaving gallons of water to help with the treacherous journey. I think of those who keep the valley perilous by slashing those gallons and callously leaving people to die. In the face of such adversity, hatred, and disregard, a question like “Do you feel safe?” seems absurd. Faced with such dark valleys and unrelenting evil, how could anyone encountering it feel safe?
The less absurd, yet more perplexing question is “Do you feel hope?”. It is the answer to this question, asked or implied time again in conversations with people who live and labor at the U.S./Mexico border that inspires me. Yes. This is God at work in the valleys of our time and what calls back our humanity, that in the face of such evil we still believe, aim, and work towards hope.
~Alisa Castilla, MDiv student
Breath Prayer for Good Friday:
Breathing in: when the world is breaking
Breathing out: help me believe
Breathing in: where oppression kills
Breathing out: help me co-make justice
This blog is part of a 16-piece series for MIGRATION & HOLY WEEK composed by the students and instructors CTS Contextual Immersions J-Term 2022 Courses on Immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Because of COVID, both the planned travel seminar and the virtual seminar joined for a fully online zoom-based two-week seminar. Instructors compiled, edited the offerings into this series. We hope that this series that integrates our studies and themes of Lent will pose questions for all of us to contemplate and respond to in our life of faith.