Tonight is a special kind of night. Dark, cold, and drizzly. Perfect for do-gooders saving the world to host a play outdoors for tens of immigrant families.
My friend Lucy Salazar invited me to this play--that is, a "pastorela" called La Caja Misteriosa by Dante del Castillo, directed by Dr. Edna Ochoa. It was staged at Sacred Heart Church, home of the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley's Humanitarian Respite Center for immigrants.
I had been there before. It is primarily constituted by a building that might have been an event hall at some point. There are also several large tents outside where many families sleep and rest. I thought the play would take place inside the building, but to my surprise, when we got through the gate we were confronted by a multitude of people making way for the actors about to start their performances.
It was a surprise to see so many people there but then I remembered the words of Sister Norma Pimentel that 2016 has been probably as busy if not busier than 2014, the year the story of unaccompanied minors/humanitarian crisis broke. This site alone, according to Sister Pimentel, has serviced more than 60,000 people.
Most times it is hard for many of us to be surrounded by so many strangers and not feel a bit apprehensive. But the feeling at this event, surrounded by all those brown, weary, humble faces was one of such peace and camaraderie that, although I had both my little sons with me, I never felt distrustful or suspicious of anyone passing us by.
It was a pleasantly strange feeling. I think it is the effect of the love and compassion flowing from the staff and volunteers with the Sacred Heart Church and Catholic Charities. I recommend everyone go there at some point. Just go and offer a little of your time to help or contribute some clothes, or toys. Visit those folks and let them show you their humanity. You will be surprised how they so easily stop being "illegal" and become human right in front of your eyes. It is a miracle.
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Gabriel H. Sanchez is a writer, poet, blogger, actor, and all-around artist from South Texas.
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