Sunday, June 3, 2018
Part of what I find missing in the world today is a desire to be with others--to really just be with them and to see them as they are and not how you wish them to be. I spent a great deal of time as a child getting in the car and going on visitas with Mom and Dad, resenting it, wishing I were home reading a book or taping my favorite song off the radio airwaves. Sometimes weddings were interesting, because all the kids got to play any which way, and not just sit around and talk, but as many of those as I attended in the 80s, they were still not as often as weekly visitas, as regular as Mass, wrapped up in a cultural experience. The immigrant experience of sharing was one of saudade, of revisiting (the lost experiences of youth, of another country, of family far away)--not just the visit at hand, so sometimes it really wasn't about the present moment, which was what I think frustrated me as a youth, made me desire to be elsewhere, perhaps the opposite of saudade. Still, it was formative.
All those weddings, all those homes we were dragged to as kids—all of it had impact. The imprint left on me runs the range of values—how to entertain yourself; how to respect elders; how to observe in situations you don’t really know what’s going on; what’s inherent to the culture of a language; what’s important to those old versus those young; the ways in which we share; the ways in which we accept—things and people—or not. So much more, really. I realize now in my 40s that there’s something that resides in me of that memory, something that touches who I am in this moment, even so many years gone. Somewhere in that tangle of memory there is a piece of myself that remains omnipresent, the girl measuring her imagination. Could I have imagined it as it measures thus far? Did the pieces of the puzzle I set down then have an impact on the now? I am in fact an observer, one who then uses the observation in some way creative or which will bring new perspective in matters of faith. I have absorbed the lessons of compassion through the lived experiences of those young and old, those unlike and like me. I think of my cousin who went to bat for me when I was made fun of as a preteen—the justice of that act. I think of the ways my parents spoke to others at wakes and funerals as much as weddings or church gatherings. Of the way my friends observed the differences between us. Of the weird worlds and lives of others in their homes and amongst their families.
I keep reaching for the lessons, like worn and loved books on the shelf, to review and remember and enact again. To be more human with each visit to myself. To cherish the ways in which the Spirit prods me on, ever onward. To reconcile presence with saudade, with that bittersweet understanding that life is in fact guided in the moment by so much more than what we think is the sum of our parts. Of course I see that now that I am a migrant on my way. The comfort comes in knowing I always have the disparate elements of those gifts I received and rejected as a child--finding them still attached, ready, springing up even as I pray for guidance in any given moment, in any place. I am hoping I can always cherish these unseen and unappreciated gifts and perhaps pass them along. Then my faith can become a living thing, not a static ritual--something shared and accepted, not buried and resurfaced without intention.