Yesterday my family ran a lemonade stand to raise money for legal aid for immigrants with people from our church.
I shared this on Facebook:
We're doing this in love for those in prison, those separated from their families, those living in fear. I feel sad and angry and I've prayed and given and wrote letters but I just find myself wanting to do more. The world as it is is not the world I long for, not God's dream of righteousness, peace and justice.
As with almost every other time that I’ve sought to do good for someone else, I found that in the end, it was doing good in me too. Here’s how:
1) I stood up for something that matters to me in public.
It’s vulnerable to stand next to a sign declaring that you believe so strongly in something you’re willing to raise money and talk to strangers about it. To be sure, it’s no where near as vulnerable as living in fear of arrest or being separated from your family. But it took some internal work to consider how other people could react and if I was willing to face opposition. Clearing that hurdle felt important, and has opened me to the realization that it’s not only possible but worth doing.
2) I taught my children about how to use their lives for justice.
We had some great conversations this week, as we talked about why we were raising money and what we would do to help. At the park yesterday, my five-year-old very clearly explained to someone that love is helping people when they need it and immigrants need help. They colored signs and squeezed lemons and talked to people. As we were leaving, my four-year-old wanted to know why we were only helping immigrants. “What about the people who don’t have a house or people who are hungry?” My five-year-old replied “Maybe we could help them tomorrow!”
3) I asked for help - and people showed up.
Kevin gave us lemons and Linh let us use her table. Gary gave us his juicer and Molly shared her lemonade container. Sally and Angela and their families baked treats to sell. Rod and Larah and others stopped by to support us. Coming together to share what we have around a cause that matters unites us in community. I experienced that sense of friendship as a special gift in this.
4) We had important conversations with our neighbors.
Many people were glad to stop and talk to us, to hear about what we were doing and talk about why this matters to them too. For me, many of these kinds of conversations are only held online anymore. It was good to interact with strangers and find a common understanding. I even got to share with people at another local church last night about what we’re doing and received money and support from them too.
5) We raised $220 for the Immigrant Family Defense Fund.
People were really generous and filled our donation jar completely! We plan to send that donation along today and begin thinking about other organizations we might partner with.
There’s something about using your body, your stuff, and your life in service of what you believe. In the digital age, so much of our “work” happens in our heads. We read things online and write things online and send money online and argue online and even pray online.
But there’s a unique and tangible beauty in squeezing lemons on your kitchen counter, smelling the fragrance as it fills your house and knowing that what you’re seeing and smelling and doing is connected to work that matters to you. Sitting on the floor and making posters that you walk to the park and stand in front of is different in important ways from sitting at your computer and writing a post. Conversations with strangers who are juggling toddlers and keeping track of their dogs exist in a more tender space than conversations with strangers in a comment section.
The world as it is is not the world I long for, not God’s dream of righteousness, justice and peace. But today, in the real world where I live, here’s to lemonade season, to being people who don’t just think about what matters to us but move toward justice and peace-making until “on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Immigrant Family Defense Fund is a local Bay Area org that support immigrants (primarily children) and their families through legal aid, bond payment and community support.
This New York Times article gives more ways you can help immigrants right now.
I recently gave this sermon which explains more about why we had this lemonade stand.
Fast for Familias is a movement of people praying for immigrants, led by Latino/Latina pastors and leaders. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned from them.
The Immigrant’s Creed is a prayer that’s been meanginful to me this month.