by Amanda Judah
The first three weeks of my semester abroad in Ecuador have given me ample opportunity to consider “cosmology,” or the way humans view their position in the world. Although this topic was originally introduced to me in a classroom setting, outside experiences navigating the city and local culture have prompted me to question how the societies in which we were raised can have a profound, and often unconscious, effect on our perspective.
Having been raised in a non-Catholic background, I´ve enjoyed the opportunity to take part in different church practices both at Boston College and in Ecuador. It’s true there are theological and doctrinal differences between traditions, and most adherents claim that their cosmology is the correct way to view the world. However, the mere fact that every culture contains some sort of transcendence or contact with a divine force is a testament to our collective humanity.
The more comfortable I’ve become with my faith tradition and its ties to my cultural upbringing, I’ve felt more encouraged to follow Ignatian spirituality, which advocates “finding God in all things.” This past week, I was visiting a small town outside of Quito and walked past a church. The doors were wide open, and the dusk amplified the bright lights and decorations inside the parish. Although a Mass was underway, we were able to enter a small side chapel to reflect for a few minutes. The call and response in the sanctuary was mixed with the sounds of vendors on the streets, music from cars driving past, and chatter on the sidewalks. I was struck with the realization that God reaches out to humanity in all its varieties of expression. While a specific building, like a church, is conducive to understanding the divine in a particular way, God is also a part of the rest of the town, in the minutia of every unique routine.
Stepping outside the chapel, I thought of the many ways the individuals I had met that day carried a small piece of the divine within them, even if they themselves might’ve believed their interactions were normal or mundane. The reminder that divinity is so closely intertwined with humanity reinforces my own tradition’s call to love others fully, even in my own limited understanding of cultural constructs. While no one can fully separate themselves from the way their culture understands God, the divine transcends divisions through love, and believers of all kinds will be blessed to remember this.