They took it all.
The chairs, the tables, the books. They took it all and burned it for their
fires to keep warm, the fires to cook their food.
We gave them the abandoned school to use, to live in. We had outgrown it, moved to a modern two-story all the amenities modern construction building five years earlier. We left this one, this building which had served us for decades, left it alone and abandoned. We were moving on and had no time for dealing with the past.
Until they came. The huddled masses yearning to breathe free. They came slowly, quietly, but surely. They came and had no place to stay, so alone and abandoned by other people, their country. They walked here, step by bloody step, first the men alone and then whole families. They left all that they knew for the promised land, a land flowing with food and jobs and peace. None of these were to be had anymore where they came from. Illiterate, impoverished, they came, hoping for a better life for their children.
Little did they know the well of compassion had dried up, and the Christians were the ones who were the most against them. They forgotten the miracle of the loaves and fishes, done twice for emphasis. The Lord showed them in their holy book how to do it. Take what you have, give thanks to God for it, break it, and give it away. There is always not only enough, but more. But the town had succombed to another God, the one of capitalism, the one that looks like greed, with the color of money and the sheen of credit cards.
That god was the god of poverty, but they didn’t know it. That god promised wealth through hoarding, through fear. Their Bible wasn’t the King James but the prosperity gospel. They forgot the stories of 40 years in the desert, trusting in the real God to provide for them day by day. Instead they thought they were to provide for themselves, saving and hoarding and prepping. They no longer trusted in God but in themselves. Their 401Ks – their pensions – their IRAs became their gods, the things that would take care of them. They forgot the story of the rich man who built the new barn to hoard all of his grain only to die in the night.
So they, in their mean charity, gave the visitors the old school, the one with the rusty plumbing, broken toilets, the lead paint. They gave them nothing of value, just their discards, just their trash. They gave them what they thought they deserved, treated them how they saw them – as discards, as trash. They forgot that you should entertain strangers as if they are angels, because you never know. They forgot that their Lord was a refugee once, fleeing from a tyrant who wanted to kill them. They forgot their own country was founded by people fleeing oppression, who sought a better life. Their own country, where they forced their way in by killing those who were already there.
Maybe that was their fear, that the chickens had finally come home to roost, that the check was finally due. After nearly 400 years of segregating and dominating the indigenous population, Karma was rising, demanding balance to be resumed.