I received a number of comments on last week’s column about my trip to Duluth for a Toastmasters presentation the previous weekend. Some people mentioned their own visits to – or memories of –Duluth, including someone who recommended that I visit the aquarium the next time I’m in Duluth, if I haven’t already done so. I haven’t, but will make a point of it the next time I go.
Others commented – and eloquently so – on Lake Superior, in response to my mentioning the stunning view it gave us as we neared our destination in the early evening hours. One person, who’s been to Duluth twice, said she could envision the moon on the waters of Lake Superior. Someone else described it as always being “so beautiful, powerful, dynamic, and life-giving – as we all are.” This comment also took me back to Uganda, where I spent part of one October day in Jinja, at the source of the Nile. Several of us took a half-hour boat tour on the Nile, and one of the sights I was most struck by was of a small, wooden boat we passed. Painted on one side were the words, “Water is life.” The message seemed even more powerful and humbling considering where I was, but the universal truth of it was brought home by my friend’s comment about Lake Superior.
Others had things to say about the Great Lakes in general. I mentioned in the column that one of the friends who came with me to Duluth talked about studying the Great Lakes when she was a young girl going to school in Uganda. In response, I heard from a friend in another faraway land – Wisconsin – who said she was reminded of how she studied the Great Lakes in school, too. It brought home to her the fact that we live in a region of the U.S. that the entire world reads and learns about, and this realization brought her a wonderful new appreciation of something near and familiar that she hadn’t given much thought to lately.
Related to that comment was the email I got from a new but very dear friend in Uganda, a university student who reads my column online and whose wisdom and insights I cherish. He said my column reminded him of places that he’s studied or learned about, and added that my columns always have a way of cheering him up.
We truly are all connected, aren’t we? No matter who we are, where we are, or what our backgrounds and experiences are, there are things we share, things we have in common, things that are meaningful to all of us, no matter how we know them or what our relationship is to them.
In this season of peace on earth, good cheer, and glad tidings of comfort and joy, and at this time of year when many of us celebrate our most precious religious beliefs and holy days, I am filled with awe, with wonder, and with hope. I am inspired by all that we are capable of, all that we can do, and all that we can become when we share, celebrate, and appreciate the things we have in common, and when we listen, learn about, and respect the things we don’t.
Although all the comments about last week’s column warmed my heart, there was one that made me laugh out loud. It came from my sister-in-law who not only told me she enjoyed the column, but also noted how far I’ve come, adding that she can remember a time when I never went too far from home.
Things have certainly changed since then. And because of the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met, I’ve come to realize that peace on earth really is possible. When it comes from within, when it spreads to the people around us, and when it continues on from there, it can indeed span the globe.
To my family and friends – those I’ve known my entire life and those I’ve just recently met – and to everyone who is celebrating their faith, their heritage, and their traditions during this sacred time of year, I wish you peace, joy, and the delight that comes from remembering and rediscovering everyone and everything that means the most to you.
The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 22, 2011.
© Betty Liedtke, 2011