Shopping is Important

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Last Saturday I shopped at the Calimex in Tijuana. The UU youth and friends built a house for a lovely, deserving family, and I helped with the cooking for 40 people, ages 11-55. There was lots of shopping to do for the omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. Most of it was done in the US, but I'm glad we bought the last few things in Mexico so I could have the fish-out-of-water experience. Even with my little bit of Spanish and a fluent Spanish speaker at my side, we couldn't get across that we wanted some fresh tortilla chips! Never mind, we ate pretty well and built a very sweet little blue house. I hope the kids got a lot out of it, I know I did.

It was uncomfortable at the building site, dusty and rocky, garbage all over, no place to take the kind of break we're used to. Here, we have the luxury of taking our creature comforts for granted. There, I was reminded that most of the world doesn't have that luxury.

The senora of the family we built for said all her life she worked for everything she had, and now she has been given a house. She feels very blessed in her heart. She's a mother like me, but she was born on the other side of the border, so her life is very different. We served lunch together. It was really meaningful for me to recognize that she and I have so much in common despite the superficial differences.

One of the dads had this perspective. Imagine your house burns down and a big group of people shows up at your land. They don't speak your language, but they stay for 2 days and build you a new house. Then they leave, and you never see them again. Here's the thing, it wasn't just us who built the house. There were some Mexican Christian missionaries and their friends who spent their weekend helping us. Many of us were quite unskilled at carpentry, etc. These gracious people came to help us help this family, because that's what you do in Mexico. The word goes out that someone needs help and whoever can help does help. Aren't they rich in this way?

Think about this when you're shopping. How lucky you are to bring your groceries back to your big warm house, to have running water, to be as clean as you want to be. Think about what your life would be like if the dice had rolled the other way and you lived on the other side of the border. And yet, they may have financial poverty, but they have a richness of spirit that is hard to find here.

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