Valerie Showalter
Sunday, September 20, 2015

While Justin’s been away in the United States, I’ve done a bit of writing. Each little piece I start begins by naming how many days we’ve been apart.




Today would read like this: 

Yes, this is by far the longest we’ve spent apart. Some weeks have felt like they have stretched forever, punctuated by occasional spells of deeply feeling our separation; other weeks have flown by, and while the sense of missing Justin is still there, it hasn’t seeped into my core. 

But 52 days really isn’t that long. Not when I hear the stories of so many around the world whose families are split by war, fear, economic poverty, persecution … with no guarantee of being together again. 

Here in London, we have been hearing all summer about the plight of migrants in Calais, France, who try most anything to cross the English Channel to perceived freedom and a chance to simply survive in the UK. We’ve also been hearing about the people crossing the few kilometers by sea between Turkey and Greek isles, hoping to enter the Euro Zone. We live with ex-Australians who often talk about the way current politics in Australia have turned tightly against people coming into that country. And, of course, I am very sensitive to the stories of the Mexico/United States border, knowing full well there is a myriad of socio-political issues that drive people to risk their lives to cross over some measly false border between groups of humans. 

So, I must ask myself: What is 52 days apart, knowing that Justin will return to London, answering easily the questions posed by the Border Agency at Heathrow? What is 52 days when we’ve had the privilege to live abroad, as immigrants of a sort, though certainly not refugees? 

Meanwhile, the rhetoric of many of these nations (US, UK, some EU) is deplorable from a variety of standpoints, and frightfully dismissive of how we have been implicit in the suffering of many. We have crafted trade deals that benefit the rich and steal from the poor. We have sold weapons to oppressive regimes, turned our backs on the people we’ve sold the weapons to, but then also turned our backs on those hurt in the conflicts. We’ve built walls, 8 meters high, because that is our perceived notion of how far one person is willing to climb. The poor will die in the desert, the marginalized will die from violence, and the boxed-in will die scratching their limbs against the walls. They are martyrs for the cause of their dignity. 

Thank God that Jesus wasn’t born in a time when refugees faced such obstacles. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus probably wouldn’t have made it to Egypt in the first place, or back to Jerusalem for Jesus, in the last place. 

Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done unto me. 

I will wait in my privilege, knowing Justin will return. I get to see my husband again, and we get to continue our privileged life together.​​

 days is nothing - thoughts on the Syrian refugee crisis

​Valerie Showalter and her husband, Justin Shenk, work with Clapton Park United Reformed Church, a creative urban congregation known locally as Round Chapel, in the East End of London.  In their roles as community hosts they work alongside the church in urban mission, assist in developing new programs of outreach for local youth and support church leaders in everyday church life. Visit their blog, to read their original post.



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