This is the second post in Linda Hartke’s Lenten series on her experiences wearing a GPS ankle monitor. If you’re just joining us, please start with Part 1.
Like you, my Lenten journey continues. It is a time for reflection, and loss is felt acutely. This week colleagues have lost a mother and a grandmother – a painful reminder of the truth in the words that were spoken when our brows were marked on Ash Wednesday, “from dust you came, and to dust you shall return,” Genesis 3:19.
It has been a long week since my last post…with work on behalf of vulnerable migrants and refugees, and connecting to churches and communities that receive them. I got “bombed” by email from a hate group spouting lies about Syrian refugees – their words made me sick. But wearing a GPS ankle shackle – every day, every hour, every second – in solidarity with Central American immigrant mothers is also painful and makes time move more slowly.
Over the last week, I have made a number of visits to policy makers in Washington to urge their support for refugees, for unaccompanied refugee children, and asked them to end the practice of locking up mothers and children.
I was worried.
I knew I would have to go through security screening every time I went in to a government building. Each time I told those with me to go ahead if I got pulled aside. Each time I thought about how I would explain the device on my ankle. Each time I was uncertain about what would happen. It wasn’t as eventful as I thought.
A couple of times, the metal detectors didn’t buzz (my toy monitor is mostly plastic), but on several occasions it went off. I was pulled to the side and checked with a handheld wand. I had to pull up my pants leg to show them the monitor – other people in line stared. I explained what it was, they looked at it, and let me go on my way.
Every day, Central American mothers who are only concerned for their children’s safety are forced to wear a real ankle shackle. Every day they are worried. Every day they wonder who will notice and what they will think. Every day they feel ashamed – when it is our country that should feel shame for treating them this way. I am learning a little about how that feels.
I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.