Wednesday, December 8, 2010

watch and imitate

You've seen it; a one-year old child with his tool box or shovel,
determined to be like Daddy.

(Michael with Mark a few years ago!)

Or a two-year old wanting Mommy to read the same book over and over and over ad nauseum.

That's just how we, over the course of the past 17 months, have been learning Filipino culture in an attempt to relate to others, and to be contributing members of this community.

We watch.

We imitate.

We get embarrassed when we make silly mistakes.

Then we watch some more, and imitate again, until it becomes more natural. Our frame of reference slowly shifts, and our cultural vision refocuses, enabling us to see this life from a new perspective.

So, if you ran into me today, you might be a little disconcerted if I raise my eyebrows and chin at you in a silent greeting, or to answer in the affirmative.

You'd wonder why I tell the taxi driver just a neighborhood name instead of an address.

You may consider me rude when I stand uncomfortably close to the next person ahead of me in line, or when I don't clear my table after eating in a fast food restaurant.

You'd think it's strange that I don't flinch when my change is 50 'cents' short.

And you might be startled to watch me subconsciously zip open my purse at the grocery store entry, flashing it wide at the guard so he can peer at all the contents.

Watch and imitate.

Little things still defy my cultural norm - like inviting someone to share my food THREE TIMES before they will take me seriously. In my mind, to offer twice is enough. If you refuse the second time, it would seem rude to me to press you further. But here it would be rude NOT to ask that third time. That is, if I honestly do want to share my food with you. It will take me longer to learn some of the more challenging aspects of this culture.

Watch and imitate.

Is it any surprise that Jesus, in His decision to live in the foreign element of Earth, to relate to man, to become the greatest contributing member of the human community for all time, would come as an infant? As a baby He watched and imitated. He was made in human likeness. He learned our ways, our speech, our fears, our hopes, our mannerisms, our culture. It wasn't enough for Him to enter on a tourist visa. He didn't come to view the novelties and scenery. He didn't come to hand out gifts and bestow smiles, only to turn around and return to heaven, relieved to be back in the comforts of home. No. He took on flesh and blood. He hungered and walked and cried and slept and lay awake sleepless with us. He lived here. And He didn't do it for His own pleasure. He did it so that He could communicate the Father's love and grace to us in the only way we'd understand.

God with us.

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Rosalie said...

I appreciate the insights into your life and the good illustration. What an amazingly blessed people we are to have "God With Us" and to know He will never leave us or forsake us. Love you all.

Carl G. said...

Thanks for sharing this - and thanks for imitating Jesus in living incarnationally!

us5 said...

thanks to you both for making the time to actually read these musings - and for your kind encouragement, too!