By Nora O. Lozano
Two days ago, I started what has become a yearly journey to spend Christmas with my family in Mexico. During this season, this trip is convoluted. It seems that all the Paisanos (Mexicans living in the United States) decide to drive south the same day. One year we had to wait eight hours to cross the border. Another year I had to drive to six different places to exchange dollars for pesos.
And then the packing. My family and I have to take both light and heavy clothes. I know for sure that we will have some mild, spring-like weather, as well as cold winter weather. So, we need to be prepared. Part of this preparation also involves being sure that everyone will have enough blankets at night. My parents’ place is a good middle class house, but due to general economic issues and weather conditions (most of the year it is warm), regular houses there do not have central heating. So, in this particular time of the year it can get very cold outside as well as inside the house, as space heaters do not produce enough heat. Under these circumstances, many simple daily routines, like taking a shower, become a real struggle. On many cold days, I keep warm by drinking hot beverages and eating warm soups.
At this point, some of my Mexican readers may think that I am exaggerating. However, after being in the United States for more than two decades, I have become accustomed to the comfort of living, through artificial means (air conditioning and heating), with the ideal temperature all year long. Now I have first world problems during the winter. My skin becomes extremely dry due to constant heating, and I depend on a humidifier to sleep.
In addition, over the last few years this intricate trip has become a dangerous one as the violence in northern Mexico has increased due to different social, political, and economic issues too complex to discuss here.
And then the return trip. All the Paisanos, trying to spend as much time as possible with their loved ones, decide to cross the border back to the United States at the same time.
So, as my family and I started to make plans for the Christmas holidays, I asked myself: why am I doing this again? Why am I crossing the border once more if it is too uncomfortable and risky? Then I pictured myself having breakfast with my dad every morning. You see, we have this unspoken agreement: my dad and I always wake up early, every day, before anyone else, in order to have this time alone. And this is only a part of the experience in Mexico. I also spend special moments with other family members and friends. So why do I make this trip? It is all about relationships. It does not matter if it is complicated or risky; I keep going because I want to reconnect with and nurture important relationships during a meaningful time of the year.
As I thought about my journey, I began to reflect on someone who also started a convoluted journey a long time ago. If my journey is somehow difficult and dangerous, this other journey cannot even compare to mine:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1:1, 14).
This journey that involved God crossing a heavenly/earthly border was uncomfortable indeed because the One in whom all things were created and hold together (Col. 1:15-17), became a human just like you and me, with all of our limitations.
Uncomfortable? Perhaps a better description is painful: leaving the direct presence of God and the Holy Spirit, being born as a poor infant in a manger, being misunderstood about his mission in life, being tempted in everything just as we are, being betrayed and denied by friends and followers. Furthermore, this journey was dangerous, too: facing constant threats from enemies, experiencing exile, persecution, torture and death on a cross.
Why did God make this uncomfortable, painful, and dangerous journey? Why did he cross the heavenly/earthly border? It was all about relationships, too!
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory … full of grace and truth…. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace … [and] all … who believed in his name … become children of God (John 1:12, 14, 16).
It was a journey of true grace: God showing a magnificent love for us — a love that overlooked the uncomfortable, painful, and dangerous aspects of the journey. All because God wanted to reconnect with us in a newer, closer, and meaningful relationship: God as our parent, Jesus as our brother, and the Holy Spirit as our comforter. I can picture them, just like my dad, eager to have breakfast with me!
Indeed, we have seen his glory in transformed relationships and significant encounters!
I will have a meaningful breakfast with my dad tomorrow morning, but also a meal at the eschatological banquet ( Luke 22:16-18) where finally I/we will be face to face with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the believers of all times in perfect, eternal communion.
So, as we live today in the eschatological tension of the now and the yet to come, let us be thankful because in God’s eternal plan there was a day when God, out of love, became human and because of this:
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace … (John 1:16).
This is the true gift of the season: God crossing the border so that we may live, in the words of Suzii Paynter, with “grace in all corners.” Amen!
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!