Cultural Differences

This morning I went out for my walk with my Netflix movie in my hand to deposit in the mailbox along the way.  At the same moment a neighbor was coming out of the next unit, one door down.  And, in a very unusual and rare occurrence for Washington DC – she spoke to me!

Yes, she said “hello” and then went on to ask what movie I had watched.  I almost didn’t know what to do!  She must not have realized that she was living in DC and that NO ONE talks to people on the street here.  Or, she didn’t get the memo that this was my year-long silent retreat and I couldn’t respond . . . or, she may have just moved in and did not yet know the local social etiquette.

We carried on a lovely little conversation until she turned to go a different direction.  And, I couldn’t stop thinking about her.

Cultural differences are real.  All you have to do is visit a different locale to experience the truth of that.  But, recognizing and appreciating the differences that we encounter is a grace.  Everyone doesn’t have to be just like us for us to appreciate them.  And, yet, when we can share something with a stranger – even for only a moment – it can be cause for celebration.

The challenge is to be able to accept, appreciate, and celebrate the cultural differences that are not so familiar to us.  Perhaps we need to open ourselves to the grace.

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