The Ministry of Keeping Vigil

We wait. We wait for the rage to subside, for the fit to play itself out. Attaching to a new mother when her first mother was not able to keep her, when in between those mothers are a series of mother-like figures who could not love her like she needed to be loved, means that rage is the only appropriate response to the grief that wells up like lava, overflowing, overwhelming, consuming.

We  wait. We do not look like we are waiting. We look like we are living, but every regular moment, every shared joke, every meal is an act of thumbing our nose at cancer. We have lived this summer and loved each other and eaten good food and cried with laughter. We have also cried with grief. The grief limning our days makes each moment stand out in sharp relief.

We wait. We wait for the baby to be here, the unbearable heat like a drumbeat of tension. The birth will be good, will bring joy. We wait until the sweet cheeked baby slips squawling into the world.

We wait. We wait for the tension to break. We wait for the knowledge that the depths of the sides that keep us apart cannot be resolved, that the cultural boundaries that remain uncrossed are damning us. We wait for good people to speak calming words, for kind people to stop trying to help and start trying to listen. We wait and the violence threatens to erupt again like thunder in the distance.

We wait. The refugees have waited before. The jobs have either come or they have not. The mood has either shifted or it has not. They know how to leave in the dead of night. They know how to move faster than their enemies. Being a refugee means learning how to survive at any cost. It means knowing that any peace is always tenuous, always fragile.

We wait together. And in this act of waiting, we keep vigil with one another.


Today, my dear friend ends her wait to release a book into the world that is stunning in its ability to hold complexity without resolving the questions. Assimilate or Go Home by D.L. Mayfield is a series of essays about life with refugees and confronting the truth that we too often make others characters in our own stories. She challenges that idea by confronting the truth of her own relationships with the refugees she first set out to help. It’s been my joy to walk alongside her in this journey for years; this remarkable book is the result of a remarkable life. I’m so glad you to get to share it with you.

Go to her author page to buy it:




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