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FOR THE JOURNEY | Good news, inch by inch

Ready for some good news?

Who isn’t? Just a quick look at headlines during the past few days is sobering.

With our first cup of coffee one morning, we learned about the murderous earthquake in Haiti. There’s the grim U.N. Climate Report. The Taliban has overtaken Kabul, Afghanistan, and the terror felt there, especially by women and girls, is palpable. Fires rage on in California, the heat wave strikes the Pacific Northwest again, and the COVID-19 pandemic surges.

OK, did I say good news? Bad news comes in devastating waves. Sometimes, good news is like drops of soft spring rain.

For several years, my friends Tim and Ruth have been loyal to a man Ruth met while visiting the detained as part of her ministry. A native of Somalia, he had fled his country because of life-threatening violence. He languished in a jail two years here in Omaha, Nebraska, visited by Ruth and warehoused by the government while seeking asylum.

Three times, the local immigration judge ruled his plea credible, and he was finally freed from jail. Under surveillance, with nowhere to go and no employment, he was taken in by Tim and Ruth, who made their home his for months as his petition wound its way through a hostile system.

Each time the local judge reiterated that his asylum request was legitimate, the Virginia appeals court sent his request back to the Omaha courts on what seemed to me to be flimsy technicalities.

Finally, some immigration leaders suggested he was never going to make progress in our system, and they assisted him in reaching Canada.

In Canada, he was welcomed. He was provided with housing, training and the possibility that his wife and children, who had fled to South Africa, could eventually join him.

Today, the good news: His family made it to Uganda, where they were retested for COVID-19 and will await the next leg of their journey to Canada, where they’ve been accepted as permanent residents. Through Ruth and Tim’s family, friends and members of our faith-sharing community, money has been raised for airline flights and other needs.

They are a lovely family, and Canada is blessed to have them.

You won’t see this family mentioned in any headlines this week.

There’s a saying, “Yard by yard life is hard, inch by inch life’s a cinch.” The good that we do as individuals is often inch by inch, while headlines are yards of sorrow.

We can’t send millions of dollars to Haiti, but we can donate something to Catholic Relief Services to help. We can’t grant security to all the young people waiting for citizenship through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), but we can write our legislators and let them know we care about those young folks.

We can’t solve the climate crisis on our own, but we can put up a clothesline in the backyard and turn off the dryer. We can compost and recycle.

It’s easy to be disheartened by headlines with their yards of bad news. Maybe we should focus on walking that inch each day to bring good news to someone.

I’ll never be as generous as Tim and Ruth, opening my home to a stranger and walking with him through years of struggle and exile. But their example challenges me to stretch those inches out a little.

Caldarola is a columnist for Catholic News Service.

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