When I was a young teenager, it was faster to drive across town than try to call using a telephone. In an age where the web, mobiles, and satellite telephones were beyond science fiction, India’s telephone infrastructure almost worked. I did not know anyone who depended on it to work. Sending telexes were preferable to relying on the ability of making long distance calls.
In this context, visitors were a reason to get excited for two reasons. First, it was an opportunity to meet someone new. More importantly, they were likely to bring greetings and messages from people we did not get to hear from very much! Knowing that they would arrive soon triggered the imagination. What news would they bring? Who was sending messages? What would the stories tell?
I look back and do not remember anything other than the emotions. There were great periods of anticipation satisfied by the arrival and extended conversations over dinner and evenings in the living room. Without technology distractions, there were no TVs and radios were limited, everything turned on the conversations.
Travelers were always couriers – of news and more. If they could be trusted, they brought personal messages that today nobody would dare share with a third party. They were living witnesses to events that were hard to believe. It was a process that has been recorded across the generations. Paul sent his in writing; “the churches here in western Asia send greetings. Aquila, Priscilla, and the church that meets in their house say hello.” (1 Corinthians 16.19) Other trusted her/his words to someone’s memory.
In today’s age of mobiles, posts, and tweets, I sense a thirst to hear and experience what couriers have to say. I love stories of faith and succeeding despite the odds. My soul is filled with hope when I hear how compassion trumped revenge. Even as I reflect, I realize that you and I are still couriers. In each moment we tell a story of what we have seen and believe to be true. We do not live alone; we are all family.