I spent this weekend with half a dozen families that I know very little and at the same time very well. We meet every year, our bond based on the most important of commonalities: we received our babies together.
Now these children are all 13 years old. Some have older siblings, bio and adopted, a couple had younger siblings–including mine–and there was an only, too. You couldn’t find a more diverse group of families. Background, education, occupation, religion, philosophy, all different. To give you some context, the family that we, Jewish with Buddhist leanings, leftie, vegetarian, urban are closest to in values and politics is a rural Catholic family living on the shore of a Great Lake.
In fact in the space of less than an hour, two heated political arguments came up on opposite sides of the spectrum, possibly because we’ve endured so many elections here in the last year. But what struck me was that, despite these differences, you couldn’t meet a group of nicer kids or more devoted parents.
After the arguments, A-M, one of the moms, mentioned that we haven’t seen one of our group’s families for years because they live some fifteen hundred km (thousand miles) away on the east coast. LF had travelled to China with her father and brother, who’d had a suit made in China; we all remembered her baby’s spunk. If only, A-M said, we’d thought of this earlier, we could have arranged to meet by Skype. Maybe we still can, someone else said.
Soon we were all huddled together, working cooperatively to figure out how to get in touch with them. A-M tried to reach the family on Facebook; no go. I had brought my netbook and was installing Skype while D (a Conservative dad who’d organized the reunion) searched his cell phone. I sent a message to the email address he found; it bounced back. Then he dialled information and asked for LF’s father with whom LF and her daughter still live. Fortunately the province is small, the name less common than I’d supposed. There was one number and it was the right number.
Success! Soon we were all talking on speaker phone, then adding each other as contacts on Skype. I’ve only used Skype 2x, and never on my netbook. We had visual but no sound. We texted until I figured out how to make their voices audible and then ours. I moved aside so the girls could meet each other.
Please imagine this: a crowd of barely teenage girls with new bodies, new confidence and new insecurities, changing visibly day by day, excitedly greeting another of their cohort from across the country.
This is the hope of humanity, that we can surmount our differences and work together for the sake of love. Because we were together on the bus when the guide said to us, “Your babies are at the hotel waiting for you,” we know that what we share is more important than what divides us. May we all remember this.