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Saturday night is family movie night, and a few weeks ago, it was my turn to pick. I chose The Prince of Egypt, trying, as many moms do, to get a little spiritual nourishment mixed in to the fun. It worked! At the end, both boys decided to start reading the book of Exodus for their morning devotions; thank you DreamWorks!
Anyway, I had watched the movie when it first came out in 1998, but this time around, certain scenes were much more poignant to me. Truth be told, I hid tears from the more stalwart Doyley men as we watched Moses’s desperate mom gently placing her precious baby in a tar covered basket and setting him adrift in the crocodile infested Nile. I didn’t even want to imagine the turmoil that ripped through her heart. In her mind, keeping her baby surely meant death at the hands of Pharaoh and putting him in the River probably meant death, but the odds tilted a fraction of a centimeter in favor of the Nile. So she used her mustard seed of faith and said goodbye.
And mercy triumphed. God gave Jochebed more than she asked for or imagined as Pharaoh’s daughter found her baby, decided to keep him and then paid her to nurse him. Her mourning turned to dancing as she smelled her baby’s hair and nestled him close to her bosom. Such anguish turned to such joy. Only God.
I have often thought of the desperation in the hearts of immigrant mothers as they load children into rafts or tractor trailers or carry them across a forbidding border: from danger and into danger, wondering which danger would prove more dreadful. They do what mothers have done in every culture and in every age: they face harrowing odds for the sake of their children.
Just yesterday, my older son called me to come and watch something with him on a nature channel. It was footage of a mother bear protecting her cubs from a formidable, male bear, starving after a long hibernation. He outweighed her by a hundred pounds but it didn’t matter. She stood, screaming in his face, her protective instinct much fiercer than his hunger. And she prevailed.
If bears will display such courage, how much more will human mothers, who bear God’s image?
Only the debased would watch their children starve when there’s even the slightest possibility of saving them.
One of the things which astounds me most in this whole immigration debate is when other immigrants speak of Mexican detainees with disdain. I did it right; why can’t they? Truth be told, if Italians, Irishmen, Russians and Africans faced the same kind of imminent doom as some of these Mexican families and could walk into America, they would. I can’t stomach any more self-righteous finger wagging. No one is genetically more law abiding than anyone else. Desperate people do desperate things. Period.
The challenge of immigration is multifaceted and complex, but taking children away from mothers as a deterrent is despicable and beneath the high calling of this country to lead. The eyes of the world are upon us, ready to do what we do. Surely, we can write laws that preserve the dignity of human beings and sacredness of human families. The milk of human kindness ran deep in the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter as she extended mercy to a wailing Hebrew baby. Surely such largess can be found in a land as rich and as free as America.