There is an African proverb which says, “He who eats alone fights alone.” Lately I have found myself agreeing with the saying, as if it were just me against this near-impossible task of mastering a language. But this is not true.
I left a lot behind when I moved here. I left my family, friends, culture, church, car, library, and I reduced my clothes to fit into one big load of laundry (that part’s not so bad…). I know that in California life goes on as it always has, and it is easy to think that people have forgotten me. I myself have trouble keeping in touch because it is sometimes hard to reconcile my old life with this new one that feels so different.
But letters…oh letters…they break through the confusing fog in a ray of light. They are a tangible reminder of the warmth of friendship and the love that people have shown me. While emails are nice, there is something about letters gives me joy. It the age of technology, it is a dying art, a personalized means of expression that celebrates the written word and makes a mockery of physical distance. People write differently in letters than they do in email, or at least I do. I take more care, pay more attention to form. Emails are easy; letters take effort.
Last week I received several letters from friends, and yesterday I received a packet of letters from a group of friends at my church. To read everyone’s words, to know that I was on their minds and in their prayers, to hold something they had written for me in my hands…it made me feel like everything I left behind was still with me.