Wonder would be the most common state that I find myself in. I am wondering about all kinds of things while here. The natural beauty of a city built between mountains and two oceans, the abundance of flora and fauna of kinds and sizes that make you appreciate our creative God all over again. Wonderful! It’s easy too to wonder about the successes and failures of what is actually a very new country. How did a culture of apartheid become one of forgiveness? Why is violence against women still treated with some nonchalance and explained away as “cultural”? I wonder.
Our experiences these past few days have included a drive down to the Cape Point, where we hiked for several hours around the Cape of Good Hope. Seeing the storied Cape with its vast expanse of seas and sky that meet at this (almost) southernmost point of Africa gives true meaning to the word “awesome”. We’ve seen ostriches grazing by the roadside, been chased by playful baboons (intent on playing with each other fortunately), and walked among South Africa’s national flower, the protea. All wonderful. And yes, we went on a wine tour around Stellenbosch and sampled wonderful local flavors of another kind! I have some suggestions for new communion wine….
One of the greatest wonders of this part of Africa is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Many of you may have heard him speak during one of his several visits to the U.S., but it was our privilege to be with him here on his home turf at the Cathedral of St. George, where he celebrates the Eucharist every Friday at 7:15 a.m. Fifty or more gathered in one of the cathedral’s side chapels, and when visitors were asked to stand and say something about themselves, we learned that a large group from George Washington University was there, in South Africa to study the effects of microeconomics, together with a local lawyer and his team who were working to make the current President accountable for the corruption many feel to be part of his government. The Archbishop wouldn’t let one man sit after simply stating that he was there with his wife, who was an Anglican though he was not. Tutu wanted us to know that this man was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church, the church that right up to the end found Biblical justification for apartheid. Archbishop Tutu wanted everyone in that chapel to understand that this man had worked for racial equality from within his church, and to appreciate the personal and professional costs he endured. And there it was, right before our eyes – the answer to how a culture of forgiveness was created in South Africa. That is one of the many things that causes wonder in me – the leadership of Archbishop Tutu and Mr. Mandela, ready to move in the ways of redemption as a new country was being formed.
One more person stood up at the very end of this time of introductions, which was in fact its own kind of sermon. He was a young man from the Xhosa tribe who said that though this was his first time in the Cathedral, he never felt like a visitor in any Anglican Church. End of sermon. Amen.
P.S. The first photo is mine, the last two are photos of photos, taken at an exhibit currently at the Cathedral here in Cape Town.