The walls demarcating cultures are not made of brick; rather they are like a slow-moving wall of water. Like the objects at the bottom of a river, a person on one side can hazily see people on the other side, they can even put part of their body through to experience it, but to completely move to the other side would require some kind of death and rebirth.
What a beautiful quote from an amazing blog I only recently discovered!
Isn’t it just so true? We encounter another culture, and we see it as if through the haze of a waterfall. We catch glimpses and try to guess what might be going on. It looks intriguing and draws us in. Or we see things we don’t like, things that offend or annoy us, and we want to walk away. Sometimes rainbows form – beautiful to look at but distracting us from seeing what is behind the waterfall.
We might be sure of our conclusions and yet we have only seen through the mist of a waterfall.
“a person on one side can hazily see people on the other side”
It happens all the time. Not just when we move overseas, but every day. We travel on the underground and observe an immigrant family. Our neighbours have moved here with their jobs and don’t know yet what’s expected. We travel abroad on a well-deserved break and struggle with things being different. Or we enjoy the strangeness of it all.
“they can even put part of their body through to experience it”
Sometimes we’re brave and “put part of [our] body through to experience it”. We enter into an experience, a relationship. We are invited into a home, a life. The mist might not immediately clear (it might even feel like it’s getting more dense), but we do see more clearly, understand more deeply. We see more of the real thing, not the hazy image.
“…to completely move to the other side would require some kind of death and rebirth.”
So true! It is a kind of death, a letting go of parts of who you were, of roots. At the same time a rebirth, discovering who you are in a new context.
Here’s to lots more waterfalls to take a peek behind!