Wow. Viewers to this blog have checked in from all over the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland and the Republic of Korea. So good to interact with all of you! The world has certainly expanded from when I was a kid – the only other kids you had contact with were the ones within biking distance of your home or were in your classes at school. I did have two pen pals for a time – a girl named Line Bøgeland from Denmark and a boy named Park Moon Seok from Seoul, Korea. Their letters may be buried in a box of mementos, but I remember receiving a heart-felt gift from each pen pal – a sprig of dried lavender from Denmark and a wall hanging for good luck from Korea.
When my son was a young teen, he was glued to the internet most of the time playing online games with other teens. One day I inquired as to who his teammates were, and he replied “There are a few of us local guys, two from the Southeastern U.S., two from Canada, and one from Japan.” I asked if the Japanese boy spoke English, and was told “No, there’s an IM translator. It doesn’t always work well, and interprets things in a funny way”. It amazes me to think that today’s kids are growing up with a worldview that spans the entire globe, and is not limited by geography!
One of the best things about living in a big city is the diversity of people and cultures. There is an international farmer’s market here – the largest indoor market I’ve ever seen. I’ve picked up unfamiliar local produce and asked the shopper next to me for directions on how to prepare a dish. Teas and spices from around the world are sold quite inexpensively in bulk containers. A wide variety of grains, nuts and seeds are available. The folks working in the market originate from an expanse of backgrounds and cultures.
As I’ve packed for tomorrow’s big move, I’ve examined most everything I own. A hand-hewn chair made in Poland that’s been in our family for generations. A simple basket woven in China. A Navajo Indian rug. A spider plant descended from one my Grandmother grew in her kitchen window. The things we treasure come from around the globe and were shaped by hands we’ve never clasped. May you treasure the material gifts you’ve been given, and give thanks to the people who crafted them from all corners of this small, small world.
Think: Who were your friends growing up? Who are your friends today? What gifts have they given you? What do you have to offer in return?
Say: Tell your friends what you appreciate about them. What is unique about their experiences and perspectives?
Do: Visit a market, festival, or cultural event that may be somewhat foreign to you. What do you have in common? What’s new and exciting? What are the gifts that come with an expanding worldview?