Recently Dave and I have been rereading The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis with a group of friends from our workplace. This is one of my all time favorite books. I think this is the fourth time I have read it. It seems no matter how many times I read it I glean something new from it each time. The last time I read it I was not yet a parent and this time I find myself drawn to and excited by the passages related to the love between a parent and a child, in ways I never would have understood before. In addition, the passages about love for country and patriotism have a whole new meaning for me now that we are living as expatriates. As a middle class American, living in America, I rarely thought deeply about my own love for my country. It was simply where I was. Yes, it was good and admirable, but in the grand scheme of things I spent very little time thinking about what made it unique and worthy of my affection.
Time in Mexico has changed this. I will be honest, for a long time I was less than affectionate toward my new home. Yes, I made the choice to come and yes it provided our family with some great opportunities, but it simply did not feel like home. It, as a whole, was not a place of comfort and belonging.
Affection is an affair of old clothes and ease, of the unguarded moment, of liberties which would be ill-bred if we took them with strangers.
Mexico was still a stranger to me. A foreign land where I was living.
But over time it has grown on me, or maybe I should say that I have grown in it. I have come to call it my own. Even to truly appreciate it and put it on comfortably like old, well-worn clothes.
It is Affection…teaching us first to notice, then to endure, then to smile at, then to enjoy, and finally to appreciate.
I still have my moments where I do not feel at home – those moments when the language barrier feels like a fortress wall that I will never surmount and a paltry task which would take little thought in the US seems practically impossible. But overall Mexico has become a place I call my own.
As I sat at a Mexican friend’s house this afternoon and savored the depths of flavor of her homemade red and green mole sauces I took a moment to also savor the many ways I have grown affectionate toward Mexico. I know that it will not be the place where my family calls home forever, but I also know that it is a place that has grown deep within me to a place of affection.
I doubt if we ever catch Affection beginning. To become aware of it is to become aware that it has already been going on for some time.
I have come to truly appreciate this place and this stage in our lives. I do not think I will ever know the moment when, in the last 3 years, Mexico became a place of affection for me, but I know that it is now a part of me.
One thought on “Affection”
We were thrilled to read your letter about your life in Mexico. A few years ago Jim and I went on a mission trip to Colima, Colima. There we were able to work with school age children, visit in their homes , paint
several orphanages, and give new computers to several orphanages. It was truly a thrill to be “shoulder to shoulder” with wonderful Mexican families.
We wish you all, sweet family, the best and we thank you for taking the time to write to us.
United in prayer we remain, always, Barbara M Muff Reno