Fluent English speakers are rare, but on the off chance I do meet up with an English speaker in South America, questions about “the States” are abundant.
Questions about prom, about individual states and about school. That’s eas;, I can confidently say that prom is not like Pretty in Pink, and yes, there are more states in the U.S. than California and New York.
When they ask about family, about religion and politics, that’s where it gets tough.
Although Uruguay and most of South America is stereotyped as Catholic, a lot of people have stepped back from the church to reevaluate their faith. Because of this, a lot of people have turned from their roots to explore ideas of faith, moral absolutism and the church.
I’ll talk about my parents, about my state and my church, but the question will always come around, “But what are your thoughts, what do you believe?”
In other words: What are you rooted in?
About three years ago, I was rooted in California. I had my family, friends and my one-track way of thinking.
Then I settled down in Texas, entering this new era of my life with Welcome Week appropriately themed “Rooted.”
Now, I’m hopping around South America.
So, what am I rooted in? I have no idea.
As anyone could have guessed, setting down roots is pretty hard to do when you keep jumping around.
Something I’ve learned, though, is that if I am to be rooted in anything, I choose love.
Heritage is important, and culture is fascinating, but as time goes on, it all changes. Even your mind is susceptible to inconsistency.
Looking back at freshmen year, just after Welcome Week talked about roots, I walked into my English class and was confronted with contradicting statements.
Such as Ralph Waldo Emerson in Self Reliance: “Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts every thing you said to-day.”
I was frustrated to no end because I wanted so badly to find stability, to find roots, in my own thoughts at the very least.
Further down the road, I’ve had time to live out what Emerson said. I’ve had my cultural norms challenged and ideas flipped, but have found roots in perhaps the most useful piece of advice for all the places I have yet to go:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV).
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