In Africa, the sky seems larger and more distant than at home in the states. The clouds give the illusion that you are somehow both above and below them. Looking up at the immense ceiling of marbled blue and grey, I find it hard to dispute the existence of a sky god. Compared to the red land at my feet, the landscape above is the hardest to fathom.
But as my stay in Africa lengthens, it is not the surrounding landscape but the emergence of two vividly separate cultures mixing that proves the most complicated. Riding in a bus across Uganda can provide the hasty impression that the closest I will ever get to making a connection with these foreign people is a wave and a smile, mostly from the young.
But like the limited view one sees from the inside of a window, my own personal understanding of human connection was limited. I made relationships today with others, and we did not speak the same language. Drawing pictures in the crusty dirt with children that knew no English, laughing with them at our drawings of elephants and smiling suns and flowers, I did not need words to share human emotion. Learning a customary dance and how to carve a traditional harp only required watching and caring. I was able to smile, laugh and sing with a people whose world is remarkably different from my own. No English, Swahili, or any other verbal understanding was necessary.
We as humans can communicate in so many ways. Verbal connection is only a small piece. I would wish that others would not limit themselves to new experiences because of verbal walls. Deeper in us is a stronger bond that does not require words. In both our darkest and brightest moments sometimes only a tear, hug, or smile is needed to let someone understand how you care. We share human life together, after all. The experience I had today would have been less powerful if it were just words.