Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Shortest Distance
By Sue Monk Kidd
We were two strangers on a ferry.
We leaned on the rail, side by side, watching the African landscape fade into the river. I eyed her with a sideways glance. She was Kenyan. I was American. She had beautiful black skin and her head was coiled with bright kitange cloth. I, white-skinned, wore blue jeans.
She had bare feet. I had on tennis shoes. Our eyes met briefly, then we looked away as we shrank deeper into our own separate and distant worlds. The only thing we seemed to have in common was our wariness of each other.
The boat lurched. A wave popped against the side, dousing us with water. We looked at each other in surprise, mouths open, faces sopping wet, both of us dripping, and suddenly we burst out laughing.
She unwound her headdress and dabbed first at my face, then her own. We smiled at each other, pointing to our wet clothes and chattered our way across the river with smatterings of Swahili and English. Like magic, we became friends, drawn together by the ribbons of laughter.
It must be true what Victor Borge said: "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people."
This article is excerpted from Firstlight, published by GUIDEPOSTS.