The Souls of Immigrants

My father is an immigrant. Fifty-four years ago he made his way to 
Florida from Havana, Cuba, on a small boat. He had no money. He 
had no food. He had only the clothes on his back. I wish I could 
say that he was driven by hope, and that his heart was afire with 
inspiration. But none of those things were true for him; instead, 
he was bowed over by starvation and by fear. Having been treated 
badly from very young, his spirit was broken, and his body 
contracted. He had very little sense of self, or self-esteem. He 
had no family, and no sense of belonging to anyone, or anywhere.

But this is not a story about my father, nor is it a story about how 
his life and history affected the Puerto Rican woman he married, or 
the children that came of that marriage. This is a story of 
immigrant souls, and of the immigrant soul in each of us.  

Each of us began our immigration from reaches unknown, and places 
only vaguely remembered, at best. Although we may not remember the 
specifics of our origins, those beginnings nevertheless follow us in 
our dreams and in our imaginations, sometimes haunting us in the way 
of a forgotten melody, sometimes spurring us to reach the 
tantalizing wilds on the other side of the horizon. As inevitably 
as the pulse of our first heartbeat continues to thrum its way 
through each of our incarnations, our beginnings are never separate 
from us. Our beginnings are also our endings – that first coming-
into-consciousness propels us forward into exploration of variegated 
unknowns - beautiful and ugly, ecstatic and painful - but all of 
which help us, assure, in fact, that we will ultimately give a shape 
and a name to our souls. And when we are finally named, we may 
again begin, nameless and without a name, but with every tool 
imaginable and not, to chisel yet another, and another…

EVEN SO, despite my many names, I am an immigrant soul. I do not 
come from here, and I do not necessarily come from where I began.  
For the beginning point of anything is only a moment in the matrix 
of everything, an ephemeral coalescence of same, and many such 
moments (or points-of-coming-together) exist, even as they disappear 
to re-form into yet another facet of the greater sum of what they 
are, or have been, will be, and ASPIRE to be. And each of these 
still resonate with remembrance of what they were, or could have 
been… I could have chosen any moment, and in a real sense, I
did. Because I chose all moments, just as they chose me.

Some of the foregoing, to be sure, takes exception to an immediately 
quantifiable or logical way of assessing things, and to be sure, 
indulges in literary license, may I be so bold. But here's my
point – when we take a moment, an incident, a point in history, a 
cultural perspective – whatever frame of reference we happen to
be using at the time, it is only EVER a frame of reference, a 
starting place, a beginning, a point-of-anchor. That frame of 
reference, in and of itself, is only a reference. And we frame 
ourselves with this reference when we lose our sight of all the 
sightlines bearing down on any moment or perspective.

No thing is only what it appears to be, connected as it is to its 
origins, its endings, to everything between, (which is) to 
everything that shifts and resonates with the unblinking speed of 
Tao. Let me re-phrase that: Every Thing shifts, turns, and spins 
with and into multi-dimensions, and some of this we are able to 
grasp with our developing understandings of the thresholds where 
physics dances with metaphysics, and some of this we can observe, 
with delight if we will, as though they were the brilliant and 
evanescent burning of sparklers in a 4th-of-July night sky.

The problems of immigration on our beloved planet (among so many 
others), in this place and in this time, are offerings of incentives 
to our immigrant souls. The many issues attending immigration are 
brought up for our reflection, I think, as a way of helping us to 
remember that each of us descends to this place from vaster and 
vaster regions, and as such, all of us have a claim to belong – 
here, or anywhere. Go ahead and throw in all of the logistics and 
practical considerations and worse- and better-case scenarios. The 
challenges of immigration are ultimately the challenges of Agape, 
and much, much, is therein implied.

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