The flight from Mytilini to Athens forty minutes. The flight from Athens to Frankfurt three hours. Means to pay for an airline ticket and valid USA passport gave me the privilege to travel efficiently, freely without fear, in the light of day, with any possessions I want to carry. The flight from Athens to Frankfurt is sobering. Many borders below protected by armed guards, barbed wire, and impassible terrain. The reports of conditions at border detention centers, cold weather, families flash through my mind. Wasser? Kaffee? Individuals and families below — caught in indifference and shifting political landscape for refugees and migration — unable to determine their tomorrow much less the luxury of beverage choice. I fly high above with my passport tucked away — back up photocopies in place just in case. No fear.
I’m home. We’re home. Now what?
In Mytilini – a thirty-minute bus ride to the harbor and ferry and forty-five minutes to the airport— our friends from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, North Africa wait. They did not have safe passage; most fled violence; their way beyond the island to Athens is uncertain. Beyond Athens, there is no legal avenue. A return to their home country is a potential death sentence. They wait without sufficient housing and privacy. They wait without a clear understanding of the asylum process. They wait in line for food, in line for the toilet, in line for water.
So we go and we wait with them. They are our neighbor . . . our brother and sister. For now, we wait together in a foreign land. We wait and we hope for safe passage, open borders, and open hearts.
You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:34
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Photo: Lufthansa flight #1285 ATH – FRA, 90 minutes out of Athens