Sunday, July 16, 2006

Home from Mexico

I didn’t have culture shock when I arrived home like I was told I might. At least not in any big way. I hesitated before brushing my teeth with tap water, and bristled when my wife put ice cubes in my drinking water. But other than that, I think I was too tired to be uncomfortable with being back in Alberta.

But I did find the cleanliness and orderliness of Lethbridge both comforting and jarring. Mexican life, especially in the cities, seemed to be controlled chaos. Life is lived louder in Mexico. Buildings are bigger and more ornate. Cars are noisier and move at terrifying speeds. Street vendors, bustling farmers and artisan markets, even break dancers and political rallies, gave a cultural dynamic that is sorely missing in our part of Canada.

People take their faith very seriously. People worship regularly. Devotion runs deep. Prayer is everywhere.

Lethbridge, by comparison, seems, well, boring. But maybe a good kind of boring. What makes Mexico exciting is perhaps what makes Canada boring.

We don’t have the terrible economic disparities that Mexico has, at least in terms of numbers.

We can drink our tap water.

Our taxes aren’t being siphoned off to politicians’ bank accounts. Or at least not at the alarming rate as in Mexico, where such activity is dismissed as business as usual.

But I wonder if hardship brings faith, and faith brings hope. I know in my own life, I feel closest to God when my personal life is falling apart. When things are going well, my sinful, human arrogance takes over and God seems like a distant hassle.

But when I’m at my lowest, God seems to join me in the pit. Maybe it’s like that at a grander scale with entire peoples suffer hardship and despair, that their life together is infused with God’s unexpected grace, and faith and hope become more real than the water they drink.


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