“English is My Second Language”

April 27, 2011 § 5 Comments

I learned English in the second half of first grade. Late November storms in the Atlantic had carried our family of five on the S. S. Oslofjord from the familiar shores of Norway to New York. A three-day-train journey brought us to Ballard, the part of Seattle in which our sponsors lived.

On my first day of grade school I was led into the classroom by my mother, and introduced to the class. All eyes stared intently at me. Painfully shy, I felt out of place, on the spot, and as uncomfortable as someone naked in a room of well-dressed onlookers. A boy who spoke Norwegian was assigned to shadow me. But I was a girl, and he was a boy, and he didn’t want to talk to me, nor I to him. By day’s end my weak little bladder was begging for relief. I had no idea where I could find a bathroom, and didn’t want to ask him. The next day I woke up with spots from chicken pox and had to stay home. Saved by the chicken pox!

I did go back, and set my mind to listening and learning what was being spoken. This was before the day of bi-lingual tutors for immigrants. One day I began to understand what was being said. It had rolled through my brain for weeks in incomprehensible sounds, but one day I realized I understood it perfectly. It was like osmosis in my young mind; it just happened. I caught up fairly quickly with my class and was ready for second grade with the rest.

Sometimes now if I use a word wrongly, or misspell a word, I’ll jokingly excuse myself by saying, “Well, English is my second language.”

Could it be the same with God’s Word? It can roll through our minds and we may not realize it has found a lodging place. But, If we are faithful to read, listen and hear, one day, when it is needed, we’ll realize it’s there. A lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Our second language.

copyright 2011

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