I find myself reflecting lately that being “home for the holidays” is a privilege that we often take for granted. This is the second year that American families faced disruptions to holiday plans due to COVID-19. It’s been challenging to keep up with the latest guidelines, assess if that cough is “just allergies,” and adapt to travel disruptions or supply chain issues that complicate our plans. We are so accustomed to having mostly free movement in this country. It’s something I took for granted before all of this.

The week before Christmas I did an airport pickup for an Afghan couple. They were finally being resettled after over 3 months in a military camp following their evacuation from Afghanistan. The husband asked me if we ever get snow in Texas. He loves the snow and grew up around it, but hasn’t been able to drive home in six years because the roads to his hometown are no longer safe. Six years of missing the snow, of missing home.

According to the latest data from UNHCR, over 84 million people are displaced across the world. So many individuals unable to return to their homes. So many families separated by war, famine, natural disasters, and inhumane border and immigration policies. It’s impossible for me to truly understand what it feels like to be unable to return to visit family for six years. Or to spend twelve years in limbo as an urban refugee…or 20 years languishing in a camp. But I hope that these last 21 months of world-shaking upheaval have shaped my heart with greater compassion. For all who wait, wonder, and pray for a life that feels normal again – I pray that 2022 is a better year.