Walls are everywhere here. Homes, parks, gardens, all rest behind walls. Look down a residential street anywhere in Cuernavaca, and you likely won't see many cars, or people, or grass. Instead, you will see thick concrete walls with impenetrable gates. In my home, there are 8 houses that share a driveway and exist together behind a wall. There's a community back here: my cousins live next door, the dogs are let out to run and play, the kids can play outside without fear of cars, there's even a tiny garden way in the back. But that's the extent to which I know my neighbors, because every other home on our street is also hidden behind a wall. You never know what beautiful spaces are just behind that gate you wonder about.
During closing worship during in-country orientation in September, we read Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall" (it's long, but definitely worth reading!). Andrea's sermon about the literal and figurative walls we will encounter in this year hit home for me. I've been trying to not build walls around myself this year, but I know I invariably am. I feel all too often that people here don't really get me, and try to put me into a box I don't want to be in. I'm guilty of doing the same thing. When I see other volunteers interacting with their friends in a way that's so different than how I normally see them, I realize that I'm not the only one here who is probably perceived differently by this group than by my friends back in the U.S. I try not to build these walls around myself, but the reality is that when I feel like I'm being misrepresented, I tend to withdraw further rather than trying to tear down those walls.
In about 3 weeks I, and the rest of the Mexico YAGMs, will be visiting the Mexico-U.S. border and the infamous wall that marks the border in much of the Southwest. Do good fences really make good neighbors? Does this fence really make the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. better?
Do the walls I build around myself really protect me, or do they just make it easier to be misunderstood?
"Before I built a wall I'd ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out,/ And to whom I was like to give offense."