Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cultural Differences/Stories

Today's reflection is from a new author, who asks us to take a look at our childhood and the images created in our minds that give us pictures of people, and make us think.

Growing up in a military family, I grew up colorblind, but rank conscious.  Later, I learned to differentiate between those who had seen war and those who hadn't - and it didn't matter their rank.  They shared that bond.

Christ serves as a bond for Christians - whether you see him with blond hair and blue eyes and pale skin, or brown hair with brown eyes and brown skin, or black hair and brown eyes with black skin.  And the stories about him change from culture to culture, but the meaning behind the stories are the same, teaching love for family, love for one another and love for God.

One of the stories from my childhood, growing up in Germany, involved the Forget-Me-Not flower used by the Masonic Order as a symbol by which German Masons could recognize each other during WWII, as they were not in favor with the regime in power.  Rather than the square and compass, they wore small forget-me-not pins.  They had taken this idea from when the Christians were persecuted at the beginning of Christianity, and the sign of the fish.

Later, when researching St. Mary's flower stories, we come across the story of Mary and the Christ child.  "The young Jesus, looking into his mother's eyes one day in front of their home in Nazareth said: 'Mother, your eyes are so beautiful, everyone looks at them in wonder.  What a pity those who will be born in future generations will not be able to behold them.  Because in your eyes one can see my paradise, and whoever looks into them cannot help but be drawn toward it.'  Then he touched her eyelids and passed his hands over the ground as though sowing seeds.  Immediately forget-me-nots sprang up, hundreds of tiny blue eyes with golden centers, as a reminder for people of future generations of Our Lady's pure eyes."  (Taken from Mary's Flowers, by Vincenzina Krymow.)

Obviously, this is a European story, told to children there who recognize blue eyes most commonly.  But the concept of a mother gazing at her child with love is universal, and the idea of the Christ child wanting to provide such beauty and love to future generations, preserving it in the flowers of the area are a great way to remember, and to teach children the values you'd like them to learn.  We have a feast of stories from all cultures, all teaching the same lessons, but changing the details.  What a gift that is!

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