Strangers but kin, in pursuit of a common goal! (By Elizabeth Elive)

We recognised our common bond

That moment our heads rose in unison

A fresh breath of air to sniff,

To sooth our palpitating hearts.

“Ah, how are you, sister?”

The beaming face staring up at mine,

Told a thousand words

Of surprise, gratitude and uncertainty.

Those eloquent, muted words sank into the depth of my soul.

I watched the beam of light

Spread from her eyes

Like a flame,

Until her face and my mine became the same.

I offered the assuring hand and,

Her mobile phone came clashing to the ground

Sounding hollow, but loud –

Its turn was up, that repetitive music that bores –

As the real, the genuine, the hand of friendship

Spreads towards the aching heart.

“How are you,” I asked. “Did we meet before?”

“Yes,” she replied,

“On the constant search for your eyes, your smile and recognition;

Knocking on your door and my door – with no response”.

But the story is not over yet.

The wheel has turned, brother,

And each fresh air moment will tell you I care.

First published in Good News by Newman House, Catholic Chaplaincy for University Students June 2023

Elizabeth Elive, the author of the poem – Strangers but kin in pursuit of a common goal – is a parishioner at St Benedict Ealing Abbey Parish – London. She looks at a real challenge on society, grappling with a near addictive mode of using mobile phones.  While more and more that engages our attention is portrayed on the internet, society as a community of caring individuals is groaning. 

Elizabeth focuses on the stranger we meet as we undertake our daily journeys, catching the trains and buses and travelling across the world with our attention firmly fixed on our phones. That stranger is the person next to you, but of whom you never remember; the travelling companions you have never even noticed boarding the train with you. When next you hear of them, they have acquired new identities: the drowned migrants, the abused woman, the missing man, the old lady needing a seat on a crowded train, the lonely professor.  Yes, as the poem reads, we have all met before “…on the constant search for your eyes, your smile and recognition”. But this story can change! We can look at the stranger even at the moment of a fresh new breath.Scriptures say, “…Encourage one another as long as this today lasts?” (Heb 3:13).



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