Isaiah 58:12
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live.

Reflection by The Rev. Michael K. Marsh

I can’t read those words without seeing the faces of migrants seeking the promises they express. I can’t read them without recalling the ancient ruins of my life, breaches that need repairing and streets that need restoring. I can’t read them without hearing the words of Warsan Shire,

“later that night / i held an atlas in my lap / ran my fingers across the whole world / and whispered / where does it hurt? / it answered / everywhere / everywhere / everywhere.”

There was a time for me when Isaiah’s words were inspiring, beautiful, and holy. Now they haunt me. They chase me. They ask for and want something from me. They insist on and wait for a response from me. They set me on la frontera of God’s promise of restoration and the world’s pain, a border that runs through every human heart.

They are haunting and haunted words – haunted by the bonds of injustice, the thongs of the yoke, the oppressed, the bread-less hungry, the homeless poor, the uncovered naked, and the human kin from whom I have hidden. (Isaiah 58:6-7)

What if that haunting is a call from God? What if it’s the beginning of restoration? What if God’s promise of restoration is something you and I are to fulfill?

God’s promise of restoration is not about a distant time in the future but about the urgency of the moment. Ruins are rebuilt, breaches repaired, and streets restored every time we open the borders of our hearts and minds, respect the dignity of another, strive for justice and peace, or welcome the stranger as a new friend.

Questions for reflection:

  • What’s it like for you to live on la frontera of the world’s pain and God’s promise?
  • What urgency is haunting this moment for you? What ancient ruins is God calling you to rebuild in your life, the lives of others, the life of our country?
  • What tangible ways might you participate in fulfilling God’s promise of restoration?


The Rev. Michael K. Marsh: “I have served as rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Uvalde, Texas, since 2005. I am married to Cyndy. We have two sons. Our younger son lives with his wife in Hawaii. Our older son died in 2009. I enjoy cycling and backpacking. I blog at”

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