The day I arrived at the Lutheran School of Theology Chicago for YAGM orientation, I spent the morning watching The Princess Diaries on Netflix at my brother and his girlfriend’s apartment. For many people my age, this movie is iconic and requires little to no explanation. However, if for some reason you haven’t seen Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews star in this film about a princess and queen of a fictional country, Genovia, then I should warn you, I’m about to spoil it. Essentially, Mia Thermopolis (Hathaway), a regular awkward high schooler, learns she is a princess deemed to inherit the throne from her paternal grandmother Clarice (Andrews). Of course, she goes through the tribulations that we all would face if we were bombarded with the news that we were secretly royalty—total makeover, conflicting friendships, normal lives vs leadership of an entire county, etc.
So you’re probably wondering what this movie has anything to do with my year in Mexico (which is where I am currently writing this blog from, by the way!) If I were ambitious and theologically savvy, I would probably try to make the connection of God as the King of Kings and how we, as God’s children, are to bring his kingdom to Earth. Or, perhaps, the complicated relationship of discernment for major changes in one’s life. Please feel free to ponder those thoughts if you’d like, but that’s not where my mind went when I recalled this movie on my flight into Mexico City. Instead, I was imaging the last scene of the movie where (spoiler) Mia decides to become Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Princess of Genovia. She accepts her new position and the movie ends with her on an airplane with her cat, Fat Louie, looking out the window at Genovia for the first time as “Miracles Happen” by Myra plays in the background.
As I leaned from my middle seat over my friend Amanda to look at the many varying terrains of Mexico, I wasn’t explicitly thinking about being a child of God, or how I am to live out God’s mission over the next year, or what my host family will think of me, or if I remembered to grab everything when I packed the night before. What I was thinking about was how much I felt like Mia Thermopolis and that I wish “Miracles Happen” was playing in the background of this moment when I saw the land of Mexico for the first time in my life. Like Mia, I have been invited to live in a new place, in accompaniment with the people, without a clue in the world if I’m doing anything “right,” but looking out the plane window, I had the feeling that I suspect Mia felt on her flight, a sense of being “home” in a place I have yet to set foot in.
I don’t think I know quite how to explain this complicated phenomenon of home being the unknown. Never in my life have I ever felt the unknown to be a place of comfort, let alone one I would juxtapose with my family, friends, church, and community that I usually call home. Yet there is something uniquely powerful in knowing that in Tlaxcala, a family awaits to welcome me into their arms (metaphorically and physically), loving me and yet not even knowing who I am. There is something uniquely powerful in being anointed on my last night in Chicago by Anneka, the alumna who served in my position just two years ago, and feeling as though we were sisters, despite being near perfect strangers in every other aspect. What a radical love it is to be loved by God through the presence of strangers and to be able to share that holy feeling in return. To use a phrase from our orientation, I am astounded by how miraculous it is for me to witness first hand the turning of the Kingdom of God into a Kin-dom of God. Coming to Mexico feels like coming home. It feels like miracles happening.
Below are photos taken by fellow YAGM Amanda which show the diversity of landscapes across Mexico.
If you want to continue to support me in this adventure please make a donation to: http://support.elca.org/goto/courtneynoya every little bit counts!