Among the many Christmas rituals going on at this time of year is the Mexican tradition of las posadas (literally, “the inns”), which commemorates Mary and
Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem. In the nine nights leading up to Christmas, families, friends, and neighbors go on a candlelight procession, knocking on doors and asking for a place to stay. When they reach the host’s home (sometimes a church) they are at last invited in, and a celebration begins.
It’s a fitting time, then, for this week’s cover story, which takes a look
at the everyday struggles of Charlottesville’s community of undocumented immigrants, and the local groups that have stepped in to offer them help
and refuge. “To welcome the stranger is one of our greatest and most consistent religious commandments,” says the Reverend Brittany Caine-Conley, who
recently traveled with other local advocates to provide humanitarian aid to
migrants at the U.S. border.
Reasonable people can disagree about the particulars of our country’s
immigration laws. The question of who gets to stay here, and why, has been debated since the United States was founded. But you don’t have to be
religious to think that people fleeing danger and looking for a better life
deserve to be treated with decency and kindness.
The tradition of the posadas is a reminder that we, too, may at one point be the pilgrims, the ones seeking a safe place for our family to stay. And that if we are lucky enough to be the ones with the shelter, we can give the gift of welcome.