Monday, November 1, 2010

Passport to Freedom: Politics and Gratitude

My husband left his country of origin with his parents and three siblings. He doesn't remember; he was only two. But they were empty-handed, especially my mother-in-law, who was stripped of even her wedding rings.  They were Cuban refugees seeking political asylum in the United States. It was the beginning of a family, although united in Christ, being divided by political boundaries much like the Berlin Wall. Mere brick or ninety miles of gulf water: so close, yet so far. Only within the last year have the remnants of his extended family been able to get out, some forty years later. Many never saw one another again face to face.

Mike's dad was an accountant and an opera singer. He rode motorcycles and was the choir director at church. After the Revolution, the government instructed those who wanted to leave the country to come to a government office to register. The morning after Mike's dad did just that, the father of four found himself instantly jobless.

He turned his kitchen into a black market bakery and sold cakes on the street to support his family: his wife, his mother-in-law, his brother-in-law and his four children ages 7, 5, 2, and an infant for two long years of waiting to leave.

Government officials came to their home to take inventory of their personal belongings, which somehow were no longer personal or belongings but had become confiscated property of the Cuban government. The day before they boarded a plane with only a few clothes to their name, inventory was taken again. All had to be accounted for. Their piano broke in the meantime, and they had to replace it before they could leave. A farewell gift to the Revolution, I suppose. Even family photos were denied them. Why? They left stripped of their dignity, their belongings, and their freedom.

They adopted a new country, and, gratefully, a great country adopted them. I was there when Mike swore oathed allegiance and became a naturalized U.S. citizen twenty years later.

Stories like these are not just movie scripts or six o'clock news. They are the burden and heartbreak of people I love, and countless others worldwide that remain disconnected from me by the peace, security, and freedom I expect rather than treasure.

Politics matter.

Freedom is a responsibility.

Please vote your Christian values tomorrow.

Let your one voice be one voice that is heard.

: : :

Two weeks worth of gratitude accumulated, including but never limited to:

258 ~ a pre-release movie screening
259 ~ an old friend reconnecting with God, her husband's salvation, and the anticipation for her phone call in two days' time for the juicy details
260 ~ text messages with good news
261 ~ walks with Mike
262 ~ Family Little House on the Prairie Night
263 ~ Pioneer Woman's French Breakfast Puffs by Reagan that took so long for her to make that they were for lunch instead of breakfast
264 ~ my little girls wanting to learn homemaking skills, making my heart happy
265 ~ waiting on the Lord so long I learn that what he really wants is me to rest in Him, not wait on Him
266 ~ that He is with me always, he's gone before and will lead me onward
267 ~ a kindred spirit blog friend to learn from, counting me among her blessings - sweet
268 ~ counting her, too
269 ~ a long day at work
270 ~ husband who begins putting away the leftovers while I read to everyone
271 ~ folding the last two loads
272 ~ Pastor Cristian's voice, Spanish, face, laughter filling my kitchen from the webcam
273 ~ the kitchen table, the place of fellowship in our home
274 ~ the privilege of driving Mom when she needs a ride
275 ~ that she lives close in this time of her life and I actually can
276 ~ Titi Omi, who is vivacious and generous and loves her nephews and nieces to pieces
277 ~ fresh slates at school every nine weeks
278 ~ every fresh slate, and do-overs, and second chances
279 ~ starting over
280 ~ not giving up
281 ~ Adrian with his guitar, Noelle with her harmony, making our home God's sanctuary
282 ~ shared duties for beautiful worship last Sunday
283 ~ this Sunday's hymns
284 ~ the right to vote
285 ~ my freedom never more taken for granted
286 ~ one lonely stamp in a baby's passport that changed our lives:
Ministerio Del Interior, Inmigración, Cuba
Salida [Exit]
Diciembre 7, 1967
287 ~ that gratitude is its own kind of passport to freedom
288 ~ that he whom the son sets free is free indeed

I'm counting Gifts of Grace with Ann Voskamp today.
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