Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Hugo Saucedo

These words by Mary Elizabeth Frye remind me of my good friend Dan Miller. Dan recently entered into the great mysterious unknown. I refuse to say he died because he didn’t. I don’t say this lightly or as cliché, but in many ways those Dan left behind are the ones who find themselves with a bit less life within. We stand and ponder the “what ifs?” as if we had any control over life and death. I refuse to believe that Dan is gone because, like the swift uplifting rush of the morning, Dan’s legacy and the legacy of many like him is still alive and will live on for generations.

I start my blogging with this account of Dan Miller’s life because it is because of people like Dan that I found my way to Christ and into the Mennonite denomination.

I have pondered the whole issue of citizenship deeply and wondered if our current political context really allows us to have a proactive way of discussing this topic. I think we are too stubborn and proud to let go of our understanding of right and wrong, legal and illegal to honestly talk to each other about such a divisive topic. This is truly a tragedy because we miss out on the entire point of what our true citizenship as believers in Christ should be. Love your neighbor as yourself really leaves little to debate in my mind.

Which is where Dan comes in. I count myself lucky to have known Dan for as long as I did, but I do find myself mourning not having gotten to know him better for what he meant to others that he served along with. This man took his family to South Texas in a time that was rife with racism and discrimination. A time where people who looked like me were treated as second class citizens. Dan fought against this mentality and stood up for those like me. It is because of his deeds that I find it difficult to remain angry and bitter with a church that I feel often sees me as a second class citizen, with all the responsibilities of being Mennonite but none of the privileges. It is because Dan loved me for who I am that I have made my peace with needing to belong. Instead, I am challenged by Dan’s legacy to continue the fight for justice where there is no one willing to do so. There are generations of Latinos in South Texas and beyond that are where we are because Dan stood up to the powers that be and denied the temptation to follow the status quo. It is this Christ like legacy that gives me hope and makes me a citizen of God’s kingdom.

Convention has always been a joyous time for me. I get to make new friends and catch up with old ones. However the coming convention in Phoenix has been a difficult one for me to come to terms with. I deplore the political and dehumanizing rhetoric that comes from many politicians in Arizona. Likewise I am disappointed that Mennonite Church USA could not find an alternative site for convention. But I have let go of that resentment and bitterness in hopes that this convention will be an opportunity to truly make some solid efforts at talking and listening to each other about this issue of citizenship.

We are not there to fix Arizona. My hope for this convention is that members of Mennonite Church USA can appreciate each other in spite of our differences, and that we can come to look beyond our understanding of citizenship and allow ourselves to be transformed by God’s call to love thy neighbor as yourself.

Hugo Saucedo lives and works in San Antonio, Texas and is a member of San Antonio Mennonite Church.