The Pastoral is Political – Borders

I am writing this at the start of a holiday. My hubby and I love traveling. Each year we decide where we are heading and I get planning. I can spend hours looking at flight options and reading reviews of accommodation options. I always aim to get a good deal and this year is no exception. We are in Portugal. We spent one night in Faro before catching the train this morning up to Lisbon and over the next two weeks we will eventually make our way up to Porto, stopping over in Coimbra on our way. We have never visited Portugal before. And we are both looking forward to a mix of exploring and kicking back and relaxing. We are both beyond tired and in need of some rest.

We arrived in Faro and it was a quick and easy entry to the country. Our passports allowed us to use the EU line. I am wondering how easy our next trip will be. We have a long weekend away with friends booked for November, this time to Madrid. Nice huh? Something to look forward to. (a wee rule of mine is always to finish one holiday with the next one already planned) Our November trip happens to be due to take place 3 days after the UK are due to leave the EU. And with things looking unlikely that any kind of deal can be done with the EU before then, I wonder just how easy the travelling will be. Freedom of movement is something we currently enjoy within the EU. But this looks like one of the issues that might be on our government’s hit list. Rumour has it that freedom of movement may come to an end. And certainly with no deal in place, I wonder how straightforward travel will be in future. How many visas will I be adding to the list of things to get sorted? And will our trip to Madrid happen? (First world problem, I know!)

The movement of people is one of the biggest issues facing the world today. With millions of people on the move all over the world. Many fleeing persecution, war, natural disasters etc. And what do those in power do? They build walls, both real and metaphorical. People who need our love are instead treated like animals, locked up, forced to live in refugee camps. And the hope they had when starting their journeys shattered.

I have enjoyed the luxury of travel to many many places. And never with any questions asked, except perhaps when I visited the Holy Land and received a grilling by Israeli passport control before even leaving the UK. The fear of the other that is insidious in the world today isn’t what Jesus taught. The refugee Christ taught that we should love our neighbour. Refugee camps and cages is not what love looks like. I despair for the world at the moment. I sadly fear world leadership is deliberately taking us further down the ‘them and us’ route. I understand my own privilege. I dearly wish others would understand theirs and see the wrong being done to beloved children of God. And then open their hearts and let love flow.

Rev Shuna Dicks is a Church of Scotland minister based in Aberdeen. Along with husband Neil, they are travelling in Portugal for the next two weeks. Travel is something they enjoy together and Shuna loves planning their adventures.

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