Arriving this year in the center of town where we hold our weekly meetings and daily Spanish classes, we found also a large encampment of street children on the block right outside the doors where we meet. This is obviously something we need to be careful about, not that there has been any trouble.
One thing my friend and co-worker Andrew were talking about is an in to talking with thes guys. Yesterday we had our chance and we talked to Mario, one of the group.
It is said that if youth don't get off the street within the first week, it is likely that they won't ever get off the street. Mario has been on the street for four years. He was a curious guy, curious about the United States and for the most part pretty respectful. Residual effects from drugs, glue-sniffing and alcohol were prevalent, but he wasn't high or drunk when we talked to him.
Mario also worships the Sante Muerte otherwise knows as Saint Death. Sante Muerte is a growing trend here in Mexico. She is the patron saint of death, and since death is inescapable in the minds of many, she blesses them in the present. In effect worshipers of Sante Muerte are selling their souls.
Some people worship Sante Muerte because it is a new trend and cool to be evil. In Mario's case, it is likely that he doesn't feel he is worthy to have any other celestial being be his patron saint, let alone God or Jesus. So he settles for the best he thinks he can get.
We asked Mario how the Sante Muerte has "blessed" him as he put it. He said with drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. When pressed, he admited that she only blessed him, "mas o menos" (more or less). Andrew suggested that God loves him, whereas the Sante Muerte wants only to consume him. He nodded a very non-commital nod.
I am very grateful for the blessings that I have been given in life, but they have not really prepared me to empathize or to understand Mario. That doesn't mean I'm counted out of the ministry of reconciliation that Paul writes in II Corinthians 5. What it does mean is that I need to turn more then towards God.
I'm studying a spirituality of mission - i.e. how spirituality effects the action of Christian mission. In this case, I'm totally dependent upon God to become at the very least empathetic. Spirituality is a connection with God, but also as he has commanded his followers, is to love others as well. Relationships, in effect then are spiritual, not in a pantheistic, relativistic way, but rather driven by the original loving God. Mario and I shook hands upon saying goodbye. That was a spiritual act as I am overcoming my own insecurities by taking the dirty hands. I'm overcoming my own fear by having at the very least somebody I pray for and am beginning to care about.