Mt first blog post when I began the Online Parish, was about communication and connecting with people through life: both near and far. Recently this has been curtailed because of the place I live. The Pastoral Training Centre in Nkhata Bay has not previously had a director who was interested in communicating through electronic means. As well, the difficulties found in the national power grid also renders digital communication difficult.
The feeling is one of isolation, since for the last eighteen years I have used digital means to write to friends and relatives in an instant of time. It would seem I have walked back 30 years once I moved to Nkhata Bay, and communicate as I did when I lived in Zambia.
This left me thinking that there was no way to get messages to people away, outside Malawi. But this is not so. It simply means the method has to be tailored to the situation. When the power is on, when the pay-as-you-go phone is paid-up, when it is possible to get to a tourist lodge to use the Internet, then the current means are used, the ones I am familiar with and prefer.
All of this is simply convenience and the simplicity of the life we have created for ourselves. But we have to remember that it is only a creation and something for our convenience. Because even without these electronic means we still are linked. Even if the only way of speaking is through the telephone and writing a letter, that is the way we have done things for many years.
There is a wonderful feeling when a letter arrives – not an invoice or electricity bill – but a hand written letter that someone has taken the time to sit and handwrite. The envelope with “Air Mail – Par Avion” on the outside, perhaps a blue airmail envelope with the coloured stripes around the edges. And exotic stamps. The stamps from Malawi are quite large and very beautiful.
When I lived in Zambia used to write one letter per day. I lived in Zambia for three years so I wrote approximately 1000 letters! Those letters I sent to my parents they saved and I have today. It is a wonderful record of those days when I was in my early 20s living far from home near the Chilala Hills.
In our world we have tremendous means of “talking” to each other. And yet our isolation grows. Perhaps the older ways were better. Write a letter, ring or call round to see someone, take the earphones off and say hello! We shouldn’t be trapped by the “method” it is only the means to an end. The point is to communicate.
“Only connect” – Howards End