In 1996 my daughter went to Humboldt State University in northern California as an exchange student for one year. The next year my son went to Taiwan to teach English for one year. It is now 2013 and he is still in Asia and she is still in California. They have pursued their careers and created a life for themselves. As a result of their marriages in those distant places our family has been expanded to include people in Japan and California.

Although these two offspring are thousands of miles away we can be with them through the internet in real time and by air in just a few hours. While Tokyo and Santa Rosa are geographically far away, we have discovered that we live in a relatively small world thanks to advances in technology and transportation.

I am not only aware that our world is getting smaller and our family is growing but I am reminded of the connections we have with our larger human family. Recently my wife and I met a Chinese couple in Hyannis, Massachusetts. In spite of the language barriers we learned that they had a grandson who was a student at Emory University. The fact that we live in Atlanta and my son and I are Emory graduates created a bond between two couples with different cultural and language backgrounds.

As we continued our travels we met other “neighbors.” On Martha’s Vineyard there was an African-American family from Decatur whose son just graduated from the Lovett School in Buckhead. At a New England sugar house we ran into a Georgia Tech employee and his family from Fulton County. While eating pizza in Lancaster, New Hampshire we met a young couple whose relationship began while they were working at the CDC and the directors of the Synchronicity Theater in Atlanta are their friends.

In Burlington, Vermont Lena and I renewed our friendship with a retired United Methodist minister and his wife whom we met almost twenty years ago. As we enjoyed lunch overlooking Lake Champlain we learned that their daughter works at the United Methodist Children’s Home in Macon and their grandson is a student at Georgia Tech.

We became acquainted with a retired Cobb County fireman who was traveling with his wife on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Their plan was to touch the four corners of the United States- Key West, Florida, a small town in northeastern Maine, San Diego, California, and Seattle, Washington. His parting words to me were, “See you when we get home.” Thinking he meant when we both got back to Atlanta I commented that I hoped our paths would cross again. But he pointed upward and said, “I mean our final home. We are both Believers, aren’t we?”

By the time we reached Rochester, New York we had traveled over 3,000 miles and my car needed an oil change. One of the technicians that was servicing my vehicle had just returned from Georgia where he visited his parents in College Park and his brother in Buckhead. He said he would really like some more southern fried chicken. Two days later we were at a Braves-White Sox game in Chicago and the young man immediately behind us was a graduate of the University of Georgia who had grown up in Roswell. We also learned that the young couple seated next to us was leaving the next day to come to Athens where they were being transferred with his job.

I am the third of four children and my wife is one of eleven children. Most of our relatives live in Alabama but we have a niece in Ecuador and a nephew in Nepal. As I think of them and remember the folks I met during the recent road trip, I realize that we live in a small world but have a large family.

One of James Taylor’s songs calls us to “recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the earth. Ties of hope and love. Sister and brotherhood.”

The Bible instructs us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9). If we can realize that every human being is our brother or sister and treat them like “family” the world would be a better place. So “dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God” (I John 4:7).

Jamie Jenkins 

Have you had experiences that made you aware of how the world is getting smaller? What has helped you to realize that we are bound together in one human family? I would like to hear from you.