Sometimes I feel like this is a good word to describe my life.
Side by side. This is how things go. My personal space bubble has grown much smaller since living in Asia. Many things are just close together, sometimes very close together. I remember the first time I realized that it was not in the least bit awkward to scoot myself up against a strange man who was driving a motorbike taxi so that my friend could squeeze on behind me without her rear end completely hanging off the back of the seat. I stand closer to people in lines now because I have learned that if you leave even the slightest gap that someone will cut in front of you. I have grown accustomed to touching the people sitting on either side of me at church, despite the fact that we have separate chairs. Yes, side by side is a normal thing to me.
But, sometimes side by side is not so comfortable. Sometimes side by side is never something that you get used to. Sometimes side by side reveals only contrast. Sometimes side by side is a barefoot child trying to sell flowers to the driver of a Lexus at a stoplight. Sometimes side by side is a family living in a fishing boat next to a new eco-resort. Sometimes side by side is a woman finding treasures in my garbage.Sometimes side by side is floating wooden houses just a couple miles from artistic latte pours.
Sometimes I wonder what God thinks of juxtaposition. Sometimes I wonder if He intentionally places contrasting things side by side. Why? Maybe so we can see the ridiculousness of the grandiose. Maybe so we can be appalled by the injustices. Maybe so we just stop and remember that regardless of our differences or preferences we are living side by side.