The Compass Blog

Bedazzled – April 9, 2017

Kathi Noaker

Hello Friends,

Living in the borderlands region of southern Arizona, the border wall looms large, both physically and emotionally. However, there’s a one mile long stretch of it just south of the small southeastern Arizona town of Naco, across the border in Naco, Sonora, Mexico where brightly colored paint and messages of love and unity bring light and love to the otherwise cold and dark steel wall.

A few weeks ago, a headline popped up in my FaceBook newsfeed warning this particular section of the wall was about to be torn down – to build a taller and more “see-through” version. So on International Women’s Day, a girlfriend and I donned some red apparel and headed east in hopes of witnessing the murals before they disappeared. The scenic hour and a half drive, a quick park on the U.S. side, and a walk-through the border station, and there we were on the Mexico side of the wall, instantly bedazzled!

“If we can’t tear it down, let’s bedazzle it! Join us in creating the world’s longest kids mural on the U.S/Mexico border wall. Naco, Sonora, Mexico.” ~ from the Border Bedazzler’s Facebook page.

Panel after panel were painted, for an entire mile, each with their own colorful theme or message – A U.S. flag and a Mexican flag with the word Amigos connecting them, one with hearts and the words “Love Transcends Hate”, an Agave Cactus with the message “Make Tea Not War.” There was a beautiful white dove and a stealthy jaguar hidden within an otherwise unpainted and rusty section, one with a message in Spanish that said “No Border will keep us from being brothers.”

After a couple hours of walking, taking our time to just be there with the art and the messages, we headed into town to explore some more. About a block from the wall, we encountered a woman talking on her phone outside of her house. When she saw us, she promptly hung up and said, in Spanish, “Hello! How are you? You must be hot! Come in! Come in! I will give you something to drink!” She welcomed us – two complete strangers – into her home for cold drinks and conversation. We met her daughter, still in her school uniform from the day. She wrote down her name and phone number and told us to be sure and call the next time we were coming to town, and she would have us for ‘comida’. She invited us to come to a fiesta at her daughter’s school in a few weeks; we found each other on Facebook, we gave each other hugs, and my friend and I were off again into the Sonoran mid-day sun.

Glancing back at her waving goodbye to us with the border wall looming behind her, it led me to consider and ponder the walls that we humans build, both the physical and the emotional ones – to protect ourselves, to keep us “safe”.

Migrating to a new work and life adventure can be scary, but when we do, we make new friends from backgrounds and cultures that are different from our own. Little by little we start to feel more secure in our new surroundings with our new friends, and our own emotional borders start to breakdown. And as the season wears on, it becomes easier to see that we truly are all in this together.

Perhaps it’s time for a little bedazzling of your own this summer?

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