My friend, Amy, is ever so slightly disdainful of my Midwestern corn pudding. Nonetheless, her mother, Evelyn, loves it, and I believe it is this humble concoction of canned corn, eggs, margarine and corn muffin mix that provides entrée to … Read More
My friend, Amy, is ever so slightly disdainful of my Midwestern corn pudding. Nonetheless, her mother, Evelyn, loves it, and I believe it is this humble concoction of canned corn, eggs, margarine and corn muffin mix that provides entrée to her Thanksgiving dinner, for which my children truly give thanks. The sumptuous feast is prepared not only by Amy but also by her Filipina housekeeper, a lovely, soft-spoken woman with a quick smile and an unexpectedly dry wit. She came to the United States fifteen years ago, leaving her children behind in the Philippines. She was virtually enslaved by an American family, forced to work long hours, for no pay, and little food. As an illegal alien, completely alone and ignorant of her rights, she was frightened of being deported or worse. When she managed to escape, she was practically starving. Her son and daughter live here now, and they feel blessed that their hard work has given them much more than they had in their homeland. We are a country of immigrants, founded by a religious, monotheistic people who believed in a Divine Eye watching over us, the same Divinity who ordered Abraham (perhaps the first recorded immigrant) "Lech licha!" Go, get out! Obediently, he left his thriving Mesopatamian family and culture for Israel, for no apparent reason except that he was told to do so. God promised Abraham that he would be a bracha, a blessing. I understand that God has the power to bless us, to touch us with Divine favor, and that we feel blessed when we get our hearts’ desires, but how can an ordinary person serve as a blessing? Weird. The etymology of bracha is sometimes cited as being bereicha, pool or reservoir, with the interpretation being that each of us can be a source, the headwaters, of blessing. My friend, Casey, lives in Nashville, and she e-mailed me recently about an immigrant incident that disturbed her. I was driving home last night after teaching ESL to Hispanic people. So it’s sort of ironic that at an intersection near where I live that a Hispanic man with a sign came towards my car speaking Spanish. I immediately locked my door and he was asking to use my phone. I thought it was a scam. Then I saw he had a swollen eye. He was saying he had been robbed. I called 911 and still kept my door locked. He turned to go away and I saw that the sign he was carrying was hiding his nakedness and he was bleeding on his back. So I got out of the van and gave him a blanket that I had in the back seat. Then some other people stopped and one of them spoke Spanish. This guy had been jumped by 5 guys at a check-cashing place. His boss had giving him a $7,000 payroll check to cash. The guys who jumped him then made him drive to his house so they could get more money. This guy either didn’t have the keys or wouldn’t let them in and they got mad and started beating him up and jabbing him with a screwdriver. He was also bloody on his legs. While we were waiting for the cops, I had my workout bag in the back of my van. So I dressed this guy in my sweatshirt, sweatpants, socks and sneakers, gave him a granola bar and put $20 in his pocket and let him use my cell phone to call his brother. Then the cops and ambulance finally came. I don’t know how many cars passed him by before I came along. So I feel the angels helped me to help him and I thought of the Good Samaritan tale in the Bible. I can’t believe the meanness of some people, to toss him out in this cold weather naked, taking everything from him–his clothes, his wallet, his keys, and leaving him so beat up. Thanks for letting me share. But it makes me feel like we are all in this world to help each other and I feel privileged that I had the opportunity to help last night. hugs, Casey Bliss These friends who have us to their homes, who laugh with us, and commiserate with us, who contain our deepest secrets and dreams, who feed us and make blessings over wine and bread with us, who open their door on a cold night in a strange neighborhood are a fine cornucopia of blessings in this still young, hope-filled immigrant nation which I’d like to believe is being watched over and guarded by that same Divine Eye.