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This Fear Goes Deep // a migration story

This was written as I explored and sat with the migration story of my German anabaptist ancestors for the Ancestral Stories class series. I've felt a lot of resistance to my German ancestry but as I've worked with them more intentionally, I can feel an opening. I wrote this as I prepare to move back to Pennsylvania, after 16 years away. The above photo was taken in Freiburg, Germany when I spent the day there in 2017. The only time I've been in Germany.

This fear goes deep.

A ripple that spreads through my family line.

Trauma that became personality traits.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

I take a step toward moving.

Traveling thousands of miles.

Not to an unknown land,

but instead to the land that raised me.

Fear ripples in.

But, what if…

I’m all alone.

I can’t survive.

I fail.

I notice a sensation at my back,

running from something.

A recurring dream.

Fear and running


From those that mean me harm.

This fear goes deep.

My German people.

My mother’s mother's line.

This fear goes deep.

Ancestors fleeing religious persecution.

Ancestors whose friends were burnt alive.

Family members tortured.

By the state.

By the church.

Fleeing, running, escaping.

Grasping for life.

Grasping for anything but this.

Did you get to say goodbye?

To your people, to the land?

Did you look back?

Or only forward?

As you traveled across the Atlantic

did you feel them at your back?




I feel them, centuries later.

My great grandmother felt them.

This fear goes deep.

My mom feels them,

her fear and worry.

This fear goes deep.

State sanctioned violence that occurred centuries ago.

When did we forget

that those who hold the most power are responsible for our collective pain?

When did we forget that we were victims of the state, of the elite

and decide to align with them?

To become white.

To value wealth and status.

When did we get in bed with the enemy?

And what did we lose?

Who did we leave behind?

How does the fear of persecution run so deeply in our blood and yet, do nothing, when we see people persecuted under a different version of the same state violence?

How have we stayed silent all this time?

Get in line.

Be polite.

Climb the ladders.

Do what you’re told.

Don’t disrupt, don’t disturb.

Did you think it would keep us safe?

I imagine you did.

And I understand.

And I forgive you.

But what is physical safety with the loss of soul?

What is physical safety with the loss of family?

Where judgement, worry, and disconnect pervade?

This fear goes deep.

And I remember.

It’s time to rock the boat.

It’s time for healing.

It’s time for release.

It’s time for something new.

I remember how we fought for our beliefs.

I remember how we resisted.

I’ll continue that legacy, despite the fear.

I’ll remember.

I remember.

As I return to the land that held you, Pennsylvania, the land of the Lenape people.

The land of supposed religious freedom.

The land that gave you a chance to survive.

As I return, will you help me?

Heal these wounds.

Break this cycle.

Fight for a liberated future.

This fear goes deep


I love you.

I thank you.

I forgive you.

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