Los dos mundos (Two Worlds)

In one world I am half the age of the people that I work closely with and far too frequently older than the ones that I serve. In the other, I spend almost all of my time with 18-22 year olds.

In one world my US passport is a heavy privilege and every time I cross the border I want to be interrogated – I want them to make my life as difficult as possible because I don’t deserve for it to be this easy. In the other world I use my passport to fly to France, England, and Italy.

In one world I am shocked when I meet someone who has graduated from la prepa (the Mexican equivalent to high school). In the other world I take for granted that I am in the midst of a university education and am making plans for prestigious grad schools.

In one world it seems that few understand what it is like to be a student at Georgetown. In the other even fewer seem to grasp what it is like to be a migrant.

I can barely begin to describe what culture shock looks like between these two worlds. To go to my cousin’s wedding in Santa Barbara this weekend and stay up sobbing because I can’t explain the depth of the injustice that I am living and the divide that I feel. To sometimes stay up fearfully thinking about the spring at Georgetown because I don’t know if I have the strength to make that jump.

If migrants often feel loneliness in their isolation from their homeland and language, I can sometimes understand the sentiment when I jump between worlds. The sometimes desperate feeling that I live alone in the middle and my time in Mexico will never fully be understood by those in my other world.

But then I realize how arrogant it is to imagine that I am alone between these two worlds. How self-centered to forget that many others have lived this reality of service long before I was even born. How silly of me to forget the constant letters, phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, and comments from my friends and family in the US who do care and do understand a piece of what I live. Or the many times that I translate for groups of students or volunteers who come to el comedor to learn more about the reality South of the border. Or even the migrants who come from places that I know – a few blocks away from where I have been in Seattle or a mile or so from where I live in Denver or DC. How ridiculous to think I am a lonely bridge between two planets.

I live across the fence but hardly far enough for God to not be the same. Hardly far enough for the basic human condition to be any different. Hardly far enough to have a monopoly on joy or on pain.

As hard as it seems to traverse the gap, in both worlds I laugh and in both worlds I cry. In both worlds I pour my heart out as I learn and grow in love. In both worlds I am called by God. And in both worlds He is present.

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5 Responses to Los dos mundos (Two Worlds)

  1. Carla says:

    Thanks for your raw honesty in these posts. Your voice challenges my thinking and makes it harder for me to just sit on the couch and read this and say “how nice that Joanna is doing this.” So glad that you are aware of God’s presence even in the gaps.

  2. Elaine Hall says:

    Thanks for your post. As I read, I found myself tearing up. Sometimes I fear that I have “left behind” the border. That my life now doesn’t honor, doesn’t participate in the world of the fence and the line on the bridge. I’m learning to live a different between. Learning to love and serve a GOd who knows no borders, no limits. When you come back to campus, please know you’re not the only one who’s been there and back again. We’ll stand with you.

  3. Ah, this is so beautiful. It is indeed arrogant to assume we are alone, that no one could possibly understand, when so many are doing all they can to stand in the gap with us. Thank you for writing this for all of us.

    (Side note/thing I wanted to tell you: This reminded me very strongly of my pastor’s sermon this week. He was exploring connections between Genesis and Revelation and had a tree on each side of the sanctuary that he kept referencing. The tree in the Garden of Eden that brought sin and death into the world, and the tree in Revelation that grows on both sides of the river, has leaves to heal the nations and produces fruit each month so that there is no more hunger. He talked for a bit about how we live between these trees, having tasted bits of both but belonging fully to neither. Then he stood back and said that there is another tree, and pointed to the wooden cross in the middle of the sanctuary. Even as we feel torn between two worlds which seem wholly incompatible with each other, we must remember the presence of the one who came to stand with us in the gap and guide us on a definitive path from one to the other. So, child of two worlds, keep letting him lead you home, wherever you are. )

  4. Thanks for your honesty Joanna. Your decision to step out of the safe boundaries of one world and to move toward people who live in a totally different world – to go to them, live with them, identify with them, love them. That is surely a reflection of Christ in you. That’s exactly what he did for us. Perhaps what you are feeling is what Paul was trying to communicate when he said, “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions” (Col 1:24). Thanks again for sharing the journey and reminding us that Christ calls us all to steps of faith and risk.

  5. Elisa Morgan says:

    You are courageously – and honestly – experiencing the painful reality of two worlds. Why do we – you and me – get to live in the one that is on the surface less painful? I have no clue. I cling to this truth: There is no where we can go that God is not. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

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