Monday, February 23, 2015
Border Mass(For Getty Images)
I went down to the Mexico side over the weekend to get photos of a non-denominational Mass that is held every weekend on both sides of the border fence. There were folks enjoying the outdoors and eating at the numerous Mariscos restaurants along the beachfront. Then, as you look north, it all stops as you hit the border. As I approached, there were a handful of worshipers, along with dozens of families, lined up along the wall visiting their relatives on the U.S. side. It all seemed pretty normal, grandma on one side remarking to her grandson how tall he had gotten, recent family photos being shown, news from back home, granddaughter’s new shoes, etc... All that until the tears started rolling, from relatives on both sides, and you realize these families are separated by this physical barrier. This keeps them from touching, hugging, coming over for dinner, seeing their grandkid's first steps, spending holidays together and all those special moments in life that you can't get from a phone conversation, letter or email. The stories from some of these folks are amazing and harrowing on why they decided to head North to the U.S., but the part of the difficulty is leaving their families, and culture behind.
The other group of folks were involved in the Mass, which took place on both sides of the fence. It had many of the normal rituals of a mass--a sermon, confession, singing, praying--except you were looking at a large metal, mesh fence with silhouettes of worshipers on the other side as opposed to an altar. It seemed to be tailored towards the hardships that many deportees face, as well as bringing peoples and cultures together. It was a really cool experience.
As I was walking back to my car, I noticed a group of kids playing soccer next to the wall and it just got me thinking how normal this was to them and how utterly strange (it is to me) to have your whole world end at this barrier a few feet away.