Deep into REM sleep, a video began scrolling behind the curtain of my eyelids. My two-year-old daughter was playing several feet in front of me in our yard. She was closer to the curb than I prefer, but I was near enough to ensure a sense of safety. A black sedan pulled up and in the quickening of a surreal moment, a man jumped out and grabbed my daughter. A scream wrenched in my throat. Arms outstretched, I frantically grasped but cradled only empty space as my baby, blood of my blood, bone of my bone, was whisked away. Sprinting and stumbling, I fell prostrate. Though I could no longer see her, I could hear her terrified screams. “Mommy! MOMMY!”
I awoke in sheets soaked with perspiration and a heart racing toward my daughter. The vision had disappeared, but the screams were more desperate. “Mommy! MOMMY!” Shaking my body and my mind awake, I realized that the sound was both in my dream and in my current reality. My daughter, from her crib across the hall, was screaming for her mother.
Some might say it was the television show I watched before bed. Or, perhaps it was Norah’s scream that crafted the nightmare in my slumber. Maybe. But, I can’t deny that there is a connection between a mother and her child. That child grew within my body, was birthed from my body and was nourished from my body.
To strip a child from her mother, already in a foreign land, and place that child in a metal cage, with chatter around her in a language she cannot understand, is to shatter a bond of security, love and belonging and replace it with fear, vulnerability and trauma.
Jumping out of bed, I flew across the hall and lifted my daughter from her crib. My tears mingled with hers. “I’m here, baby girl. You’re safe. You’re safe. Mommy’s here.” Her stuffed bunny gripped tightly in one tiny fist and her purple blanket dragging from the other, we made our way to the rocking chair. Her cheek pressed against my chest; our breathing kept time to my singing: “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Brown and tan and black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
I don’t recall lyrics that “Jesus loves the children on this side of the border.” Or that “Jesus loves the children of parents with American passports.” Or “Jesus loves the white, English-speaking children.”
Jesus loves children. ALL children. And, American church, so must we.
In the quiet of the night, let our spirits not grow deaf to the screams of “Mommy! Daddy!” that are pulsating in fear from children who have been forcibly separated from their migrant parents. May we leap into action as we would if each voice we heard was coming from the crib across the hall.