When I was in middle school back in Arizona my best friends were Patti, Mary, Dolores, and Tammy. We ate lunch together, hung out after school together, and spent the night at each other’s houses on the weekend. The four of them lived in small, older homes in a barrio behind the railroad tracks while I lived in a newer suburb in South Tempe. They teased me for not knowing Spanish, introduced me to eating lemons straight off the trees, and called me “Casper” for my blonde hair and pale skin. We were close. But as we entered high school and began the transition into adulthood, our paths diverged. Nobody said to me, “you shouldn’t hang out with Mexican girls,” in fact, there was nothing in my life that discouraged our friendship at all. But culture has a way of taking over and directing our lives. My track into white middle class adulthood happened without my awareness of it and it wasn’t the same track that Patti, Mary, Dolores, and Tammy were on. The walls that exist between our black, white, and brown communities are often invisible and yet impenetrable.
This week I start my training as a group leader for the Presbytery workshop titled “Brown Church” led by Robert Chao Romero. I am really looking forward to it, in part because it will provide a window into a world I lost touch with a long time ago. The Latino/a church has a unique take on social justice, theology, and identity. I have a lot to learn about Christ from people whose experiences are different from mine. When we make the effort to cross over the invisible walls of culture and enter into other worlds God becomes larger. I think that is just what we need to make our way into an uncharted future––a God large enough to encompass us all.