Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Ramblings of a Rusty Runner

The alarm went off at 3h30 - yes that is 3:30 in the morning! I groped with disbelief for the light, taking a while to remember that I was to run a race that began at 5am. I am no longer in Cape Town where races begin at 6am (or 7am in winter). Here in Pietermaritzburg the races begin at five in the morning - any later and the heat and humidity becomes too much to bear.

Lately I have taken pity on my knees and have graduated from running marathons to running half-marathons. In a rush of blood to the head I entered two half-marathons on successive weekends. Last weekend I ran the Peninsula 21km in Cape Town, and this weekend I entered the 21km in Pietermaritzburg. Last weekend was lovely: I ran my favourite stretch of Cape Town. Beginning from Bergvliet we ran to the sea, and then along the coast from Muizenberg to Simons Town. We had a sweet westerley breeze to keep us cool, and I felt strong. And just as I was fading my fan club pitched and shouted encouragement (thank you Jen Tyler and Lisa Gee).

But today was a week later .... a week of long days and very little running. Oh well, I would run on the memory of last week. I was planning to get to the start on my motorcycle, only to have the battery die on me last night. So I phoned around, and found Brian Gray who agreed to give me a lift: "No problem, I will fetch you at 4:10". What to have for supper? I now had no transport to find supper, so I would have to make do with whatever was in the fridge and cupboards. Yes, there were some tinned beans, and some cheese, some milk, and some macaroni - viola, a supper is produced. Off to bed.

The alarm work me before sparrowsfart, and as I stumbled into wakefulness I knew that those tinned beans were not a good idea. It was not just the sparrows that farted this early in the morning. Ah there were the car lights of my lift.

"Hi Brian"
Oh no, it is not Brian but his son. "Dad said I must fetch you"
"And Where is Brian?"
"He is still asleep."

We sett off for the start....along with thousands of other runners. I estimate that about 3 000 runners filled the road - and helped raise the humidity levels. I was aware that the beans of last night's supper were also contributing to the methane levels, but "better out than in" is my motto. We set off on a 21km circuit around Pietermaritzburg. This really meant that the first 10km were uphill and the second 10km were downhill. I covered the first half in 7minutes per kilometer, but then recovered my equilibrium and managed the second half at 6 minutes per/km.

It is strange running in new territory. Not only do I not know the route, but I do not know the runners. I see some of the clubs that I remember from running the Comrades Marathon - Chiltern, DAC, Hillcrest Harriers, and Collegians - but many other clubs are new to me. We set off in the dark, weaving our way over speed bumps and pot holes, and as the dawn lightens the sky I am grateful for the early morning mist that cools the air. Gradually I begin to feel better and take in my surroundings, which consisted mostly of grizzled old codgers trundling at the back like me, and some pretty young things who graciously agree to laugh at our jokes - possibly out of pity or as a charitable gesture.

And then there was the finish line. The marathon runners turned right as they set off on the second leg of the run, but I gratefully headed for the tunnel, crossed the line, and received my medal with a sigh of satisfaction. It was only then that the realization struck me - I still had 4km to get home. I had so blithely told Brian not to worry about me after the race: "I will run home". What an idiot! I dragged my sorry ass over the next four kilometers at walking pace, rewarding myself with a hot shower and a sleep.

Now - what's the next race?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Sermon

Wednesday morning at the seminary begins with a sermon. We are not just about academic gymnastics (and there is plenty of this). We are a place for the formation of Christian ministers. And Wednesday morning is the reminder of the call to ministry.

This is found both in the challenge offered by the preacher, and in the process of listening to experienced preachers and learning how to preach.

Right now we are encountering the three point sermon. Wednesday by Wednesday the preachers will use this basic structure as the medium for God's message. And in this we not only encounter a challenge of the Holy Spirit in the preached word, but we are challenged to learn how to communicate clearly and simply.

Ross Olivier preached this morning on Jacob wrestling with God at Peniel. He invited us to encounter the mystery of God - as we see Jacob trying to define God: "what is your name?" Ross then invited us to discover our spiritual growth in our inner wounds - Jacob's struggle left wounds. And thirdly, we were reminded that like Jacob, we are held secure by the Spirit as we offer our helplessness in worship.

I am grateful for my life.
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Friday, February 18, 2011


So here we are inside the stadium. Let the show begin (can you guess that I am really making the most of this evening?)
I have worked from 7am (morning worship) to 10pm (preparing the next day's lectures) for two weeks straight. Saturday was prep for Sunday's services at Wesley Methodist at Hayfields in Pietermaritzburg.
So I really need today off! And am having a great time.
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At the Stadium

Jenny and me outside the Cape Town Stadium - going to the U2 concert
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A sea of people

Crowds converging on Greenpoint Stadium for the U2 concert.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flights of Fury

She was angry. She was so angry that her voice had become a shrill screech and her words were punctuated with expletives. She threatened to sue the airline. And she shook her fist at the counter check-in person. And she demanded that they pay her a full refund in addition to giving her a free flight. And free drinks. And she was going to the newspapers. And she knew influential people who would hear what a useless airline this was. And on and on it went.

All because the plane was not big enough for everyone who had booked. There were 5 of us in the same predicament. We were bumped off the budget flight (the one with no frills, food, and comfortable seats) onto a British Airways flight with food, drink, newspapers, and spacious seating. In addition we were given a voucher for a free flight. And we were asked to wait an hour for this flight. What a bargain!

She did not agree - but then she clearly does not belong in Africa. This is a continent that asks a measure of flexibility when it comes to time. And once we learn to deal with delays, shifting deadlines, and waiting in line - well it is a beautiful day.

And I am grateful for my life.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Community Sacrament.

In the Methodist tradition we affirm that the Grace of God embraces all people. We believe that whoever responds to the call of God is welcome to be part of God's community of faith. We believe that this is visibly expressed in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

Those who preside over the liturgy are not gate keepers. Instead the priest/minister/president serves anyone who answers the prompting of the Spirit of God and comes to the Sacrament.

This evening at the Seminary Community service we celebrated God's Grace-full welcome to both adults and children as we shared Holy Communion together.

And I am grateful.
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seminary children at family worship

Every Tuesday evening the Seminary has family worship. Here the children of our seminarians sit next to the table of Holy Communion as they are welcomed into the worshipping community.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

my Valentine

She spent the weekend with me. Jenny lives in Cape Town and I am four hours away in Pietermaritzburg (a two hour flight and an hour each way to the King Shaka airport).

She is living in Cape Town with our three university-going daughters. They are all in their final year of different stages of study and so Jenny will join me at the end of this year. Until then I look forward to weekends such as this.

We are at Circus Cafe in the Pavilion Mall at Westville - on our way to the airport.
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Duckpond

A long leisurely lunch at The Duckpond. This is a coffee shop behind Jesmondine Nursery, above Hayfields in Pietermaritzburg.

There is a traditional roast Sunday-lunch, washed down with a great cup of coffee. If you want to add something extra then try the cappuccino milkshake, which is homemade from scratch (no powder or instant coffee).

Aaah ...koffie kapitaal.
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Thursday, February 03, 2011

worship in SMMS chapel

The seminarians spend time each day in worship. It is a core activity in their formation as spiritual leaders. Please keep their spiritual journey in your prayers.
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