All day immigrants pass through the doors of Sacred Heart church with no physical belongings beyond the clothes on their backs. They come from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and elsewhere in Latin America. Here they are received with open arms, given clothing, a chance to shower, legal advice, sometimes a night’s rest, a knapsack of food, and a bus ticket to destinations all over the United States.
Young mothers and children make up the vast majority. Beautiful and polite, meeting them feels like being introduced to a new neighbor. Their eyes reveal great anguish, fear, uncertainty, yet also sparkle with determination, hope, and an indomitable spirit.
That spirit. It saturates the entire building and lingers hours after the last refugee has passed through. It overcomes trauma and exhaustion with an overwhelming optimism. And when one of the children pulls your pant leg and laughs, or an expectant mother thanks you with a trusting smile, that spirit grabs hold of your heart and bursts it.
As my friend Broderick Greer said, being here doesn’t make us especially compassionate or noteworthy people. It just makes us people.
These are the courageous ones.