With a fellow parish, my wife, Sr. Warden, and I took a mission trip to Guadalajara. There, we did a seminar entitled ‘The Life in the Spirit’ which is a course designed to teach some basics and to bring folks to a deeper walk with Christ. Lots of experiential stuff that Constantine likes. I’ll have many thoughts on this in this and future posts.
We did the seminar for the clergy and laity of the Anglican Diocese of Western Mexico. I found myself going back to my past in the bilingual Pentecostal church I grew up in (yes, I am Hispanic and no, I didn’t learn Spanish)in which the passion of worship was full of life–and sometimes chaos.
What struck me about the culture down there was their emphasis on the ‘table,’ that is, the meal times and the wonderful interaction with families and friends. Life stops for meals and when the dishes are cleared, all gather for the sake of simply being together.
The buzz words in churches in the US is ‘community’ and ‘family time.’ But it is painfully obvious that we have no clue what that is. We exist for our careers and jobs and have little time to laugh with those we love. We are hurried, going from one trivial pursuit to another.
There is nothing romantic about Mexico, in fact the spiritual darkness there is palpable. However, they have something we don’t–each other.
7 thoughts on “Viva Guadalajara”
Maybe the non-romantic general yuckiness of their life is what makes them cling to each other? In some ways, the answer to that question is, “Duh!”, but in other ways, it’s more difficult–sometimes, general yuckiness of life drives people apart. So, is it a case of general yuckiness+Christ=community?
Some of my closest friends are an Italian American couple. Their parents are immigrants who still follow many of the family traditions of their native land. Eating at their home with three generations present is an event. They spend hours at the table. I have found visiting them to be a blessed healing experience.
There is a lot to this: the anticipation, the preparation, setting the table, the centerpiece, the cooking, the carving, the toasts, the grace or blessing, the special dishes, the second helpings, the memories shared, the dessert, the clearing of the table, the washing and drying of the dishes, the storing away of the silver and dishes. I remember it all from my youth. It takes a family to bring it off that has the time and leadership and traditions to bring it off. Largely absent Dad, second income Mom and 1.3 kids can’t do it. It takes the extended family or intergenerational community to have memories. It takes tight communities to express such care. It is ritual. It used to preserve us.
Today’s family is largely gone or greatly reduced in size. Community that requires time and participation is avoided. Time is money.
Life needs these rituals and this community and this density.
That is one of the most poignant parts of traveling abroad for me. You see community like we don’t have in the states almost anywhere you go. People in most countries recognize the need for one another, except here where we have our plasma tv, our cell phones and our high speed internet to keep us up to date with “what is out there”. I am hypocritical for saying this because i like everyone else use technology extensivelly, but i hate it. It has segregated our country like never before. We don’t appreciate community, and we don’t live for one another because we have become mostly self-efficient. I would give anything to move to a culture where people are bound by tradition and family. We have no tradition here.
Speaking of meals, my husband and I have tried to gather our friends together many times for meals. We believe that gathering around a table to share what we have been blessed with has great potential to break down walls and to encourage us to open up to one another. But everytime we have tried, no one has been willing to commit a time, and those who have said yes to coming will back out on us at the last minute. It is frustrating to both of us. Very few of our friends are willing to make plans to come together and enjoy one another because they want to keep their options open for better things. They want to be entertained. Apparently community meals aren’t entertaining enough for them.
Call it a party, they’ll show up.
Then fool them and have a table set, and ask them to sit and enjoy.
Just a thought!
lol, i love it! it’s worth a shot.
I go out with a group of friends once a month. Everyone looks forward to the event where we get together and eat and drink and talk and laugh for three hours. No phones and no serious talk about work. (About half the group are attorneys.) Everyone has a great time.
I think that these days a lot of people treat relationships with others as optional — even in the Body of Christ. We use a lot of highflown words about community and doing this that or the other for the good of “the community” forgetting that there is no community absent communing with one another.