You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 22:21 (NRSV)
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2 (NRSV)
Displacement as part of immigration is one of the important lessons that we have learned since leaving the United States of America and moving to the Netherlands. Ours is a self-imposed displacement where so many in our world (especially with what is going on in Ukraine) are being displaced because of circumstances beyond their control.
With displacement comes a certain amount of loneliness — saying goodbye to what is familiar and to those with whom you are accustomed to seeing on a regular basis. Saying goodbye to those you love.
The loneliness can be exacerbated by not knowing the language. Most Dutch people speak English and yet you are in their country, so learning the language is important and polite. Having to learn a different language has given us a new respect for people who move to a new country and catch on to the language quickly. All of these things tie together with being vulnerable and open to asking for help. One thing that we have noticed is our privilege.
We are white immigrants in a predominantly white country and sometimes are treated differently, more respectfully than people of color. We have always had respect for other people and cultures, and this respect has grown since we have chosen to live in another country and to be immigrants ourselves.
Action: Take time to reach out and have a conversation with someone who is from another culture/country. If you are unable to have a conversation, then take time to look up something you are curious about another culture/country.
Prayer: God of all nations, help us to welcome and embrace the stranger. May we not look at one another as “other,” but as children of God, one and all. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Debbie Carl is a retired Presbyterian clergy who is now a professional life coach specializing in mental fitness. She has lived in the Netherlands for three years and has two grown children. She is married to Noël.
Lindsay Freeman is a social media content expert working with the Synod of the Sun. She has lived in the Netherlands for four years. Her partner is Mitchell and she is mom to Delilah, a perky Maltipoo.
This year’s Path of Peace reflections are designed to help participants explore peacemaking efforts addressing some of the major issues of our time. The theme for the 29 days of the 2022 A Season of Peace is Led Forth in Peace: Critical Areas of Engagement for Peacemakers. With these daily reflections, we are invited to reflect upon ways to practice peace by engaging the following critical areas:
- Climate change
- The intersection of poverty and racism