In a Vancouver court room earlier this week a man and his family were going to court for their deportation hearing. It was another court day like many before where he and his supporters lined up to go through the metal detectors and security screening process. Going to court is stressful for the best of us. But for a small child the experience can be completely overwhelming. There are police, lawyers and people around who you do not know. They ask strange and funny questions; almost as if they don’t believe the answers they are hearing.
The unknown and having people pry into your personal and private life is unsettling. You have to be scanned and searched in order to get into the building. What is going to happen? Will we be able to stay in this new country that offers a better life? Will we have to go back? Back to what exactly?
So many questions, so much uncertainty going to court for your family’s deportation hearing can be completely overwhelming for almost any one. But hear they were the family coming once again to court, another day, another hearing and another time to go through the process of being scanned and searched again.
When the guard came to scan and search the youngest daughter he said: “My you have grown since the last time you were here. Do you know you have grown?” The girl while being somewhat shy was able to put at ease with the whole experience. After the girl passed her search successfully it was time for a priest to go through. As she lifted her arms to be scanned she pulled up her sleeve to reveal a partial metal rosary that she had around her wrist. She knew that it would set the scanner off and wanted to alert the guard to its presence. The guard smiled and said: “That’s okay, I have one hear.” And point to his chest. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I wonder what it means when Isaiah says: “And a little child shall lead them” (Is. 11: 6). Day in and day out that guard does his job at the court house. He must see many people, hundreds of people each day. Everyone with their own story. Some are family and friends of the accused. Some are innocent, other are guilty. They come every day to court to plead their case, to ask for justice. Every day the guard scans, searches and processes everyone who comes to court. It would be easy, and almost understandable for the guard to be distant and not engage with those coming to court. No one would really blame him for wanting to keep things moving along, and rushing through the process. It is understandable that this is not the place for the personal. This is a place for the facts of the case. The black and white truth.
But instead the guard could see past all of this. He could see and recognize the vulnerable and the innocent. He made another choice and decided act with compassion and love toward another human being. It didn’t take much, but it was enough to make an unpleasant and disorienting experience be just a little bit more tolerable.
Advent is an opportunity to look for God in the unexpected places of our lives. As we continue with our preparations and in the business of this season, let us also pay attention to where we could find God and hope. A hope that is deeper and stronger than we can imagine. A hope that can restore our faith in humanity and points to a God who shows up in this world, our world in ways and at times we least expect. God is turning the world upside down again to show us a new way, a different way of interacting and living in the world.