Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Time to Pray

I have run dry…..worn thin……lost momentum.
I have given so much that I have nothing left to give.
So I am going to the mountains.
I will be at Dharmaragiri for the next two weeks.
This is a place of prayer located deep in the Drakensberg Mountains.
I will spend time in silence. And in reading. And in reflection and journalling.
And in walking the mountains.
Pray for me.

Now and then, set aside for yourself a day on which, without hindrance, you can be at leisure to praise God and to make amends for all the praise and thanksgiving you have neglected all the days of your life to render to God for all the good he has done. This will be a day of praising and thanksgiving and a day of jubilation, and you will celebrate the memory of that radiant praise with which you will be jubilant to the Lord for eternity, when you will be satisfied fully by the presence of God, and the glory of the Lord will fill your soul.

- Gertrude the Great
Spiritual Excercises, Quoted in "Essential Monastic Wisdom", by Hugh Feiss.

Friday, June 15, 2007

1976 June 16

This day is etched into the history of my country.
It is the day that the education of our children became the battle ground for socio-political change in our country. Schools closed, people marched in the streets, police and army units tried to restore order, and politicians and preachers pontificated.

The past two weeks - 31 years after the first June 16 protest - my country sees teachers on strike, children at home, people marching in the streets, politicians promising, and police and army units trying to keep the peace.

And I wonder?

• I wonder at how quickly the 1976 activists, now turned Cabinet Ministers, can forget what it is to struggle for life.
• I wonder why these cabinet ministers are so eager to accept their 30% pay rise, but insist that public servants should not even get a 10% increase.
• I wonder how the struggle veterans can be so dismayed at the militancy of the unions.
• I wonder why these “representatives of the people” should lock the doors of parliament last Friday when a peaceful march by the people reached parliament.

I wonder why we do not learn from the past.
And I wonder at the silence from the Christian clergy. Why do we not preach of these things, and pray publicly, and stand with our people. But in 1976, despite the outstanding leadership of a religious few, most of the local church was silent too.

Pray with me for our land….
God bless Africa
Guard our children
Guide our leaders
And grant us peace

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Good American

Jen Tyler shared her day with me.
Jen is a student at Garrett Theological Seminary in Chicago. She is spending her summer (our winter) in South Africa to reflect on her inner promptings to live and work in Africa. And I have set up a programme that introduces her to the variety of cultures and people that make up our land.

So Jen spent the morning with me worshipping with “coloured” communities. These are people who walked to church in the pouring rain; people who choose to go to church because they need strength to cope with the harshness of cold wet winters; people who are currently on strike for better wages; people who sing for courage, and who huddle together for shared support.

And next weekend she will be in the Xhosa community of Masiphumelele. These are people who live in shacks made of corrugated iron and wood; rural people who have come to the city looking for the mythical “gold paved streets”; people who bring melodious songs and vibrant red and black church uniforms; people who will welcome this American export with warmth and joy.

And I want to believe that there are more Americans like Jen: because from the tip of Africa, most Americans appear to be insensitive to people who think differently, are unable to see their desire for world domination as sinful, and are unwilling to share their wealth – unless you think like an American.

Jen is not like this.
She is warm, caring, and genuinely interested in the people she meets. I believe that she will find a warm welcome here.