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No. 48 – Near & Far

by | Mar 14, 2021 | Letters

“After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.”

~Mark Twain

Dear friend,

I just returned from a wedding out on a ranch. It was serene, joyous, communal, classy and definitive- all the best nuptial adjectives. Out of all the delight, a brief moment in the service stood out.

Prior to their vows, the bride and groom publicly read letters to each other. My buddy’s note was a mirror of himself- reflective and hilarious. His bride is a recent immigrant from South Africa, so her letter dwelt on the process that had brought them together. She noted that at one point, they were over nine thousand miles apart and had no idea of each other’s existence. Yet five years later, at that moment, there was no longer any distance. He held her hand. She held his. No longer separated. No longer unknown.

I nodded in assent, but it sat heavily with me- the enormous chasm that once existed between them, the statistical probability of their match, the thousands of days. Her words played over and over in my head. Nine thousand miles. Unknown. Five years later.

After dinner I wandered off by myself.

I sat in a field down the hill from the venue. In front of me, a series of tiered ponds encouraged a quiet flow of water. Sounds of the distant merriment reached me on the wind. A single swan lazily moved through the water. The sun was setting, though clouds wouldn’t let me see the final departure. I closed my eyes and the breeze brushed against my cheeks.

My memory took me back to Kenya.

I used to watch the sunset from the upper field of Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe. [Here is a picture of the view.] Often, I wouldn’t be dressed warmly enough, a point made by my tear-away Adidas basketball pants’ inability to keep out the wind. But I’d sit there anyway, huddled up with my knees to my chest. My companions were the stiff breeze and the dipping sun. Near and far.

Then it all made sense. A Swahili summary of the bride’s statement- nine thousand miles, five years ago, unknown man, unknown woman- came to me on the wind: “Patience attracts happiness; it brings that which is far.”

“It brings that which is far.”

Indeed. That’s exactly what I had observed in the ceremony. South African (now American) bride. Oklahoman groom. United in marriage. Happiness.

“It brings that which is far.”

I got up and trudged up the hill to rejoin the celebration. In that moment, there was no longer any distance between Kenya, South Africa and the United States. It had been brought together.



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