Mediating communication between a couple experiencing the challenges a cross-cultural marriage can bring I am struck with wonder that they are able to operate at all.
Always having to communicate in a third language – one neither can call their own – must result in numerous opportunities for misunderstandings, sometimes humorous, sometimes frustrating and at others, very painful.
Talking at cross-purposes is never satisfactory.
One can never express the depth and breadth of meaning one longs to convey.
Words are just not enough.
But are they ever enough?
An elderly Nepali neighbour, recently moved into the area, stops me in the street.
Do I speak Hindi? I reply that I can try. So she, a Nepali speaker and I, one who speaks Urdu, find a way of communicating in a third language neither of us are fully comfortable with. A tale of woe ensues. One of a husband unexpectedly taken ill, his wife afraid, lost without him and uncertain how to navigate the buses in order to visit him in hospital in this strange city.
The essentials are communicated – enough for helpful action to be initiated but what is the hidden history that remains unspoken? What anxieties and fear have been left unsaid?
I’m reminded that here we have no continuing city. And that insufficient ‘knowingness’ is what it means to live this life estranged, in exile from our eternal home.
We read God’s word given to us –
the revelation, over the ages, of His character and purposes.
Parables, proverbs, the metaphor and the nuance – at once enriching and enigmatic.
We listen for the voice of our Father.
We think we hear Him right but at times we’re not sure.
We guess at understanding.
We make links that perhaps were never there in the first place
and miss those clues which are obvious.
The picture we get is hazy; we move hesitantly through the mist.
We move forward in faith rather than in certainty.
Now we see through a glass darkly, but then, (we are promised) we’ll see face to face.
There will be no more confusion. All will be clear.
To fully know and be fully known – a most wonderful gift.