It all began when our ten-year-old neighbor Natalia and I were together in the kitchen, working together to prepare a salad. With curiosity, she began picking up items from our food shelf and asking what exactly they were. She commented that she had never seen a can that looked like this and asked what exactly you use a jar of peanut butter for. She then looked in my fridge and asked what broccoli and cauliflower were. I patiently answered her as she continued to ask questions. In the end, she commented, "Wow, we really have different things on our shelves and in our fridge."
For a moment, I was a bit disappointed that Kevin and I have not "integrated" our eating habits as much as I thought that we had. I guess we don't eat gallo pinto and tortillas twice a day like Natalia does, but we do have them several times a week. My mind was suddenly filled with the many differences separating Natalia and myself, differences that have led to a greater understanding of what it means to live and exist with people who are not like me. But then I began thinking about the differences that we have between us and thought that this "betweeness" does not mean that there is some type of barrier.
I slowly responded, "Yes, we do. We do eat differently." I then asked her if she thought this impacted our friendship. She shared that she did not think that it really did, if anything she has been able to learn from me and I have been able to learn from her (ten-year-old wisdom, I tell you!).
This led to a beautiful conversation about our differences - the foods that we eat, how we celebrate holidays, what we do in our free-time, how we worship God - but the incredible thing is that we can still be friends. I shared with her some stories of conflict in our neighborhood, in our city and in our world and how many of these conflicts occur because of differences in beliefs, differences in culture, differences in ways of doing things. We reflected on how sad this is, how if people really were able to listen to one another and learn about our differences, that we could grow as individuals and as humanity. Instead of hurting and harming one another because of our differences, we could be challenged to learn and love more deeply through those very differences.
The way of peace is walking the road with the other, dropping the label and being willing to learn. We have to be taught the way of peace, the way of love and the way of nonviolence, but we also have to being willing to learn this. As John Lewis said, “In the bosom of every human being, there is a spark of the Divine. “