Everything about Everything

Life among the Tarahumara of Mexico

By Anne Childs

Beans and tortillas fueled our days and satisfied our souls. They were a simple but succulent meal; we never tired of them. Just as some tortillas outshone others, so did some beans. Chavela’s beans were hands down the best in the valley. One day I learned the secret to her success, watching, fascinated, as she ladled scoop after scoop of pig lard from a bucket into her pot of boiling beans. Their flavor was unsurpassed.

Chavela’s house perched on a rocky hillside, just above an intermittent stream. She and I sometimes visited on the banks of that small stream as she washed clothes. Other days we sat on logs outside her house while she told me stories and, in her own unassuming way, taught me volumes about her life and people… she was a gift of inestimable worth to me.

One day as she wove an intricate belt on a handmade loom, a jet silently traced a ghostly path across the sky far above us. Pausing to stretch her arms, Chavela happened to glance upward. Then she looked at me, gave a quick nod toward the sky, and said, “Have you ever been in one of those?”

Rooted to her bare bones world as I was, the thought of flying across the great blue expanse above us in a barely visible speck of black seemed suddenly preposterous. I gave her a sheepish look, then forced myself to admit I’d done such a thing.

I was the frequent fool in the company of these gifted people…

She stopped, tipping her head to one side as she eyed me, and said, “You know everything about everything, don’t you?”

I told her I didn’t even come close to knowing everything. I was the learner here, the neophyte. I was the frequent fool in the company of these gifted people who knew how to carve out a life in an exceedingly hard place.

And this was the reality: John and I, over the course of some years, walked a wild learning curve among a people very different from us. But we simultaneously found ourselves treading a common path with those very same people, a path that wandered through the shared terrain of things loved and longed for, things dreaded, things dreamed. In the midst of daily life and laughter, language learning, development projects, and many conversations, Jesus made Himself known to them and to us. He met all of us on the path and extended an invitation to newness in Him, to forgiveness, to life that will never end.

And I’m sure I was the one who learned the most—profound lessons about belonging, grief, rest, risk, treasure, beauty, and suffering. Life among the Tarahumara was difficult and costly, but it was also defining and rich. It was surely not about me or anyone else. It was only about Him who is our all in all—Creator, Redeemer, Upholder—He who is the first, the last, the beginning and end, the One who alone knows everything about everything.

From He who is the first, the last, the beginning and the end, the One who alone knows everything about everything.

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“Everything about Everything” is an excerpt from Blue Is the Color, Anne Childs’s book about the years she and her family spent serving among the Tarahumara.

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