Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Each Smile A Hymn

upon our return from our recent trip, we've had to deal with the usual "coming back to reality" issues of day-to-day life: our central air unit has to be replaced, our 13-year-old lawn mower has decided to retire, we have a roof leak, the house has to be cleaned, and so it goes.  as we try to deal with these issues, we've reflected back on our trip, remembering the wonderful sights we've seen, the new locales we've experienced, and the kind people we've encountered.

when we travel we discover that people everywhere are much the same.  there are a few impatient, rude, selfish folks, but most are gracious and kind.  the lovely irish lady from whom we rented our first apartment left us fresh baked bread and staples for breakfast.  the young irish student that set beside us on the train from waterford delighted us with stories of her life and curiosity about ours in the states.  the manager of the spar store/petrol station in newtonmore, scotland, treated us with such courtesy as he gave us advice on sights to see and routes to take, and we looked forward to the necessity of stopping to see him several times during our travels.  the pharmacist who came out from behind the counter in edinburgh to look at the cuts i got when i fell and to find the right cream to help me heal quickly made us feel that we were long-time customers instead of tourists he would see only once.  the scottish couple we chatted with as we traveled on the train from mallaig to fort william seemed like life-long friends.  as we waited to board the ferry to return to dublin from wales, i struck up a conversation with a young english man, and he became our companion on the ferry ride across the irish sea, as we talked about the national health service in the united kingdom--the subject of his post-graduate studies--and our complex and expensive health system in the usa.

everywhere we go, we find wonderful people, strangers who become our friends for a few fleeting moments but who seem to have so much in common with us that they could easily be members of our family.  this trip, like each one we take, convinces me that we are all much more alike than we are different.  we may speak different languages or the same language with different accents.  we may be young or old.  we may have different sexual orientations.  we may practice different, or no, religions.  at our core, we long for connections with others, for a peaceful life, and for every person to be free from want.

may we remember that a little kindness to a stranger goes a long way toward making life happy.  may we see that our similarities are more important than our differences.  may we live lives that set aside the cultural barriers that separate us and see our common humanity.  shalom.

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