It’s amazing how, after having spent 10 years — most of my adult life so far — here in the States, I’m beginning to forget what it felt like to grow up in the far-away land of Brazil. It’s almost as if the memories that sustained such a crucial aspect of my history have begun to dissolve, melting into what is now my new reality. And while part of this is absolutely normal — the natural consequence of leaving one’s motherland for another — I have to admit that the high level of disconnect was really beginning to bother me.
So about a month or so ago, I bought a book on the history of Brazil (a version translated into English, ironically), and rediscovering some of my roots has been incredible. And while I don’t necessarily believe that the place whence we come must have a defining grip on our identity, or even that a mere book could put anyone in a box (although I have to say, this book is right on about Brazilians having a big sweet tooth!), I do think there is substantial value in taking the time to find out — to remember — who we are. It’s as if, buried deeply beneath the soil of our beings, there are pieces to a puzzle we’d given up on assembling.
And as I walk along my path of re-discovery, I’m finding that I am not alone in the quest. I mean, whether or not people have ever left their country of origin, many of us are constantly faced with the challenge of living in all sorts of exile — places and situations that demand conformity of us and might, consequently, create in us a hunger for home.
And, just as counter-intuitive as buying a book on my own history, is reclaiming and embracing the truths that I’m finding written in it. There are things about us — hidden treasures covered in the dirt of the earth — that, just as unpopular as they may seem, can also bring to our soul the healing it longs for; and a healed, healthy soul, is the most fundamental ingredient for a better world for everyone. The Psalmist said long ago, “thank [God] for making me so wonderfully complex!” and I’ve become convinced that embracing this God-given complexity, often so hard to do that we may even need the help of a book, is the key to unlocking a world where (self-)loved people can better love other people.
Caio Santos | Pastoral Intern