My friend Melissa is on the other side of the ocean right now, navigating a path of discovery that is both glorious and precarious. On paper, life is easily distilled into chronology and expectation. Lived fully, it’s rich in nuance and mystery and the dizzy dance and learning that we are truly born to belong. In the United States, we’re encouraged to live with fierce independence. But stepping outside our small world, we see that we are not our own. We’re in this together.
We talked about how difficult translation can be, how words don’t easily hop from one culture to another, what we have to lay down in order to receive understanding.
But translation is a lovely thing. It opens us to new ways of painting words. We let go of colloquialisms (words we’ll one day look back on and find have cheapened the depth of what we wanted to say anyway), and we learn how to frame moments in new ways. We find what it is we truly want to say. Translation from language to language, translation from generation to generation, translation from heart to heart. All are gifts. Savor this time.
I typed those words in a text to her, and as I did, I thought about my precious friend Miss Mary in Jamaica. She knows at least four languages, and she uses them all interchangeably. She’s taught me much about the true beauty and power of our voice. She invites the listener in by making them feel welcomed when they hear the familiar. They see themselves in her words. She continues to be a learner of language and dialect. She looks a lot like Jesus in that way. He loved to speak the language of others.
She welcomed me. And she’s still teaching me to welcome.
For the longest time, I fought to find my unique voice. I’ve realized that I don’t have a voice, but rather I AM one. I pray to not be so enamored with the sound of my voice that I become deaf to the voice of someone else. Language to language, generation to generation, heart to heart. All are gifts. All are gifts.