Trust the spirit. This is a phrase that is used in many different faith spaces, and one that I have used myself. It is a phrase that I am deeply challenged by, especially as we consider the celebration of Pentecost. I have always been envious of this moment in the Bible where the disciples are empowered by the spirit—so much so that they can be understood by thousands in many different languages and dialects. While I wish, like the disciples, that I had the ability to communicate so easily with all different types of people, I am most jealous of the incredible feeling of empowerment and hope that I imagine they felt as they spoke and channeled the spirit.
Recently, I have had the opportunity to accompany families seeking asylum as they are released from detention by ICE. In these moments, the two things that I feel most are insufficiency and hopelessness. The reality is overwhelming, the need is seemingly never-ending, and it appears that things will continue to get worse before they get better. Each time I head home after listening to someone’s story while transporting folks to and from a shelter to a church, or helping people organize travel plans, there is an experience of deep desolation. I continue to be deeply unsettled, sometimes struggling to sleep at night and to process what was going on. I have rarely felt empowered or comforted by the spirit.
It was not until beginning to bring this desolation to prayer that I was able to witness the way that the spirit is at work, in the same way that it flowed through the disciples at Pentecost. The powerful resolve of those seeking a more dignified life, joined by the mercy, solidarity, and many sacrifices made by the numerous communities and people responding to this reality are the manifestation of that spirit. Despite many times not being able to formally communicate, and never being able to fully heal the broken reality, we have the same power that the disciples did, to speak through loving solidarity and accompaniment. We all have this within us, which should give us hope. These moments with the families seeking asylum are true paschal moments, where the crushing reality of the cross is resisted and challenged by the spirit flowing through the migrants and those responding. This is a glimpse of what the Kingdom might look like, this is what we are made for. As we move from Easter into ordinary time, may we trust the power within us to resist by not giving up, or giving in. In community, together, empowered by the spirit, we can continue to build a different reality, lifting each other as we work toward a more just and merciful world.
Will Rutt is a graduate of Brophy College Preparatory and Creighton University, and is currently studying Catholic educational leadership, with a focus on equity and inclusion, at the University of San Francisco. He currently teaches religious studies at Brophy and serves as the Director of Ignatian Service and Advocacy. Immigration has been at the forefront of Will’s work over the last 10 years.