I wandered the rutted back streets of a small town in Mexico to escape the visual overload of the rainbow colored storefronts and the intrusive assault of street vendors. As I carefully walked the back roads to avoid the ruts and puddles, I was attracted to a small store with a door of peeling pink paint and the distinctive smell of fine leather. The cobbler, Mario, was hunched over his workbench as he mended and put together shoes for his neighbors. A lively conversation in Spanish drew me to the back of the shop where a low partition revealed a white haired man creating silver jewelry. Mario and Carlos stopped their conversation only long enough to acknowledge my presence.
As they went back to their work, I noticed a cardboard box with several silver crosses. I was immediately drawn to a unique cross with cutouts. On closer inspection I saw that the vertical line of the cross contains a Star of David, the Buddhist Wheel of Life and the Islam Crescent Moon and Star. I was moved by this intricate piece of art coming from a predominately Catholic country. Through a series of hand gestures, Carlos and I came to a mutual agreement on the price and I left the small store with my "find."
I love this cross. But only those persons who get close enough notice the cutouts. This inevitably leads to questions and an ensuing discussion. When we get close enough to a person whom we perceive to be "different" in some way we become aware of what unites us as part of the human family. The barriers between "us" and "them" fall away.
May each of us embody the true meaning of this holiday season as we reach out to others in need and open our hearts to ALL of God’s children.