Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Last Saturday I was ready to leave Mexico. Or, at least, Melaque.
I have long argued that circumstances should not control our joy in life. "Circumstances may change, but Presence makes the difference," and that sort of thing.
There is Truth in that argument. But, now and then, life has a way of wearing a hole in the seat of your best slacks. Rather, the seat of my best slacks.
And that was my week. A couple of instances had eroded my patience with Melaque. The details are not important. Let's just say they were the type of events that can lead to permanent ruptures in relationships.
On Saturday, while I was heading out to buy some milk and Raid, the little girl (maybe 5 or 6) from across the street, who always greets me with "hola," suddenly came up with "good-bye."
She was talking with the woman who lives next to me -- and who speaks a bit of English. I naturally assumed she had taught the new word to the neighbor girl.
That little act cheered me up. She was so proud of being able to say something to me in my language.
When I returned from the corner store, the two of them were still in front of my next door neighbor's house. I greeted them with "Buenas noches."
Without missing a beat, the little girl spat out: "gringo estupido." Not once, but twice -- while the neighbor woman stammered out: "No. No. No. 'Hello.'"
I was stunned. Now, I have been called many things in my life. But it did not take much to realize that the little girl had learned the phrase somewhere. Undoubtedly, from one of my neighbors.
By the time I was in the house, I decided that it was time for me to move on. For some reason, that little dart was the last blow.
A couple hours later, I was doing my usual round of the property before I locked up for the night. Just inside the front gate, I found a small square of paper. So small, I almost missed it.
It was addressed, in an unschooled hand, to: "Amigo." I snorted. When irony comes, it often arrives in a dump truck.
Then I noticed, the paper was folded as an envelope. When I opened it, this it what I found.
I am not certain what kind of animal that is. Cat? Puppy? Bunny? Rat? Whatever it is supposed to be, the message is clear. It is a greeting card wishing the best to the recipient.
In one moment, my mood morphed from resentment to contentment. Through one act of kindness.
For the past few weeks, our church has been discussing God's grace and the joy Christians have in being able to share it. And how, far too often, we show others far more self-righteousness than grace.
On Sunday, I showed my little envelope to the church group. Whoever shoved it under my door shared the type of active and practical grace we have been discussing in theory.
I am not leaving Melaque. Certainly not as the result of a couple of silly people and their unthinking moments of bile.
Or being called "stupid"by a little girl. After all, we expatriates are a constant source of humor to our Mexican neighbors. Being laughed at is just part of living here.
I still do not know who the agent was who crafted and delivered the little greeting, but I do know its ultimate source.
Grace abounds. And that alone is a miracle.