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Leaves - Photo by Marg Herder

“And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
–Revelation 22.2

I had a dream the other night that I was talking to a Hispanic man who was saying that he just wanted an education for his child, that we had good schools for kindergarten through grade 12 and they were free. He spoke gently, the wellbeing of his child in his heart.

Indiana has fear-based “anti-immigration” legislation pending. I remember thinking, ‘What if I was in France with my daughter because I wanted her to learn French? How would I feel if I got arrested because I did not speak French? How would I feel if they refused to let me stay because I only spoke English? And why do we divide up and require passports?’ Criminals do not exist only “out there.” The Oklahoma City bombing was not a “foreigner” and our prisons are not overflowing with strangers: they are people from our communities. What is it that we really fear? Is it the unknown?

We are like leaves on a tree: different colors, different shapes, and different branches that extend in various directions. We have different religions and languages. But we are all connected. We share the same planet. We share the same sky, the same need for food and water, and the same need for love and compassion.

Many religions call for compassion. What does that mean when we label someone an “immigrant?” Are the people proposing hate legislation Native Americans? Are their ancestors native to this land or did they travel here from far distant lands? And if we go back far enough in time, to the earliest human remains of an African woman, haven’t we all traveled great distances? And if you believe in a soul or spirit, where is your true place of origin?

And how do our borders apply to wildlife? What does it mean to be compassionate about preserving habitat for the Buffalo, Grizzly, or Whooping Crane? How do we work to protect the food and shelter needed by other species, regardless of what city, state, or nation they traverse?

What does it mean to live a compassionate life? Are we able to choose love over fear, especially for the “unknown other”? How do we heal old wounds so that we can continue to keep our hearts open? How do we nourish our Life Tree so that it grows strong, bountiful, and beautiful—every branch reaching toward the sunlight?

A compassionate life cares for all children, everywhere. It does not let hatred, bloodshed, fear, greed, anger, or discrimination dominate. A compassionate life will choose love.

In joy and gratitude,


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