The Global Network


This weekend I shared my cedar swing with a person with whom I had first connected via the Internet. Now here’s the wonder: she first found me on a social network site specifically for knitters called Ravelry, met me for the first time in Morocco, and this last weekend drove all the way from Maryland to Nova Scotia to spend some time in my home. We’re friends, deep friends, and though we’ve only recently met, it’s as if I’ve known her always. What’s happening? It’s like a global power surge of connectivity is flowing through networking sites making the world both a larger and smaller place.

Here’s another tale and for this I go back three years. I’m in my living room knitting myself together after a long illness. The phone rings. I pick it up only to find a bad connection and a garbled voice pretending to be a woman with an accent. I immediately think it’s to be my friend, Steve, a former actor, radio host, and jokster, pulling on another clever accent to fool poor little me. I tease him back and hang up on him…three times. The next time I answer the phone, the voice comes across as clear as a bell: “Hello, my name is Amal. Please don’t hang up on me. I saw your website and we are kindred spirits. Would you like to visit me in Spain?” (the exact words have been edited but the gist remains the same). I say yes with hardly a moment of hesitation. Not for a second did I question who I’d be visiting or why I’d go spinning all the way across the ocean to a country to which I’ve never been, to visit a person I’d never met. It all felt so right, better than right. A month later I’m on my way, having just escaped from active duty at a job that had not only made me ill but had begun to feel like indentured servitude. Stepping into a wider world with broader boundaries just felt so necessary.

Spin forward into now. Amal and I have been to Morocco together twice, to Istanbul once, and continue to plot and plan ways to explore the world with our tours. Every year, my husband and I visit her and husband in their home in Spain. We are sisters. I’m her ‘little sis’, she my ‘big sis’, and through her I have experienced a very profound kind of global expansion. Amal is Palestinian, born in Jerusalem. She’s lost two houses and one country to political turmoil and yet remains one of the kindest, most expansive, souls I have ever known. Within the beauty of her art work, you’ll see a spirit who understands loving connectivity and who works that passionate commitment to humanity alive in her art. She has taught me so much. In her company, I have journeyed through Muslim lands, increasing my understanding past my narrow roots into the rich world of Islamic art and culture. I have learned never to judge a people or religion by it’s radical elements and always to seek the deeper, uncorrupted, truth behind both people and their beliefs.

So, this is my new definition of global expansion: to stand on one’s home turf knowing that, yes, the world can be a scary place yet is filled with just as many glories as horrors, that we are all one despite our differences, and that coming to understand the individual within the world collective makes us stronger. We can love our homes and our nations yet still belong to a bigger place. Though traveling helps broaden our boundaries in an earth-beneath-our-feet kind of way, these days we don’t have to even leave home to experience that connectivity. Just plug in and open up. Thousands of us come to one virtual realm where we reach out to one another through our shared passions, knitting ourselves together through our conversations and creating a fabulous, breathing, global network. We might even make a friend along the way or find a soul-sibling we never knew we had.

We are not alone.