leaving and living

My friend Patricia left for the States yesterday where she will be working as a hospital chaplain. I'll miss her, just as I'll miss the other friends who have left over the past few months. Right now, this airplane-skype-blog-transitory life seems a bit mad. These great distances more and more of us live at can seem easily breachable when a funny postcard or parcel packed with love arrive in eager hands. But then so so wide when someone you love is not doing so well.

My situation is such that I have video phones and plane tickets and visitors but many migrants lack regular contact with home alongside little security in their place of arrival.
Migration "is one of the main features of the changing global context, with decisive consequences for the ecumenical movement locally and globally," Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia noted in his opening address to the WCC's central committee, meeting in Geneva 30 August-6 September 2006.

The UN estimates that over 175 million people are on the move worldwide, and the trend is growing as economic globalization, civil conflicts and transport links transform traditional societies.

In the face of such complex change, churches in all places are called to live out the biblical ideal of hospitality towards the stranger and accepting change, Kobia said.

"In today’s world, welcoming strangers is a justice issue, and often a political statement," Kobia underlined. "Practising true hospitality involves recognizing our own vulnerability and being open to transformation...Standing with migrants is politically unpopular in most regions of the world. The risks are very real, yet so is our calling," he said.
The full text of Kobia's report is available on the WCC website


Argentina's recent (post-conquest) history is of migration. Bruce Chatwin spun fantastical tales about the isolated communities of Patagonia, clinging to old traditions, language and dignity. My favourite story begins and ends like this:
The hotel in Río Pico was painted a pale turquoise and run by a Jewish family who lacked even the most elementary notions of profit...
In the morning I had a tremendous row about the bill.
'How much was the room?'
'Nothing. If you hadn't slept in it, nobody would.'
'How much was dinner?'
'Nothing. How could we know you were coming? We cooked for ourselves.'
'Then how much was the wine?'
'We always give wine to visitors.'
'What about maté?'
'Nobody pays for maté.'
'What can I pay for then? There's only bread and coffee left.'
'I can't charge you for bread, but café au lait is a gringo drink and I shall make you pay.' (In Patagonia [1977] 2003:55-6)


Back and forth between my two rooms this week, I noticed a poster for a film night at the local Mennonite church. The film advertised is about the expectations and realities of a Bolivian immigrant to Argentina. If I make it on Saturday, I'll tell you more.

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