Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Frontera Faith

The frontera (border) is a dangerous place. Literally and figuratively. The frontera is where one encounters opportunity and great risk. I remember years ago watching the movie, El Norte, that chronicled the crossing into the USA of a woman and her son from across the border.

The frontera is a vulnerable place, where the difference between agony and ecstasy is razor thin. To make the journey across the border is one thing; to live constantly in that reality is flat out exhausting. That is the constant state for millions of what Juan Hernandez calls VIP's (very important paisanos). They are very important to the majority of North Americans that take it for granted that they have people to serve their meals, cut their lawns, and take care of their kids. (How could such a vital segment of our society be so invisible at the same time?)

In La Villita, a thousand miles from the frontera, on Avenida Mexico (26th Street) you would swear the border was right here in the heart of Chicago. Though only a 20 hour bus ride away on el conejo (the bus line) life here is just as vulnerable, just as risky, just as brutal for many men, women, and children having to survive without a greencard.

La frontera is a constant reminder that although we are 'here', a part of us is from 'over there'. It is a reminder that life must be lived between two realities. As followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we too know the struggle of 'Frontera Faith': having crossed over into new life in Christ, there is still so much in us and around us that reminds us of life on the other side, where we knew there had to be a better way.

Frontera Faith keeps us dependent on Christ everyday (while our true citizenship is not in this place, we do have a heavenly citizenship to look forward to). Frontera Faith makes us grateful for our loved ones (rather than for more things). Frontera Faith teaches us to risk and to embrace suffering as the passage way to abundant life (anyone who wants to be my disciple must pick up your cross daily and follow me).

Mestizo sojourners survive with Frontera Faith as part of our reality.


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