Tuesday, October 28, 2003
I remember so well the times I worked, with heart, mind and soul
amongst the Salt River people, Cape Town. In Saint Francis' Parish!
We were indeed the "coloured" and a colourful community struggling
to live together under the rule of Apartheid!
We were Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Animists, amid many many Muslims.
I use to leave my "Holy Cross Community" in the early morning to return late afternoon.
The larger, "coloured" Salt River people was my home. My God given Mission!
We educated each other in many ways. Poverty was written in shaking letters
on the smiling faces of young and old. We shared the little we had,
which was the only way to survive. How much true friendship flourished
from the sharing, I can't tell.
That was daily fasting, in fact it was simply sharing.
My closest neighbours were muslims. Each day, during my free time,
at the St Francis Centre, just opposite their tiny dwelling, I could rest a bit,
pray, take notes, prepare for the afternoon action-groups.
And each day, I knew, the muslim man, would cross over to the "stoep of the Centre", bringing me, in his beautiful, amber, finely chiselled hands,
à plate of rice-curry with pieces of chicken and a bit of chutney sauce!
Everyday God made!
Also during the Holy Ramadan fast, (like yesterday, Monday, 27th October 2003), towards midday, when the blazing sun was at the zenith, the Muslim friend came over to me, the Christian sister, with the plate of food while he and the family would fast till sunset!
His beautiful dark eyes spoke of friendship. Alaha's universal friendship! I just gratefully said: "Baie Baie dankie Oupa!" Merci beaucoup, papa. Even today, I feel nourished by the Muslim friends, their humble, discreet giving of food, during Ramadan time, to a mere stranger like me. Here, in Switzerland.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
To vote or not to vote: that is the question
The swiss candidates: they are legions!
Once upon a time, a man tramped the highways and byways of Palestine, Galilee, Samaria, from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to Egypt, back to Nazareth, to Jerusalem, with no other itinerary than to go do good to fellowmen met along the way, and, at the end of the day, spent, thirsty, hungry, cold and Oh! so lonely, finding no home to sleep. "The son of man found not a stone upon which to lay his beautiful head" (Lc 9, 58: Mt 8, 20).
That Man, Jesus of Nazaeth, founder and first leader of the movement whose members would struggle on to create a society in which people felt at home!
He had no "political programme" apart from what he himself did. That is: be at the level of the people he served. Empowering the little people for action. Simply love, since, after all, to love and be loved, concretely, is the only meaning in life.
To-night still, I am bewildered at the swiss electoral agents' endless chatting, squabbling, wanting at all cost power, not, it seems, to empower the powerless people to assume their destiny, but to rule them, dominate them, win their hearts and minds to the inescapable loyalty to an economic system securing the survival of a few rich in a land that has lost its beautiful, agrarian soul!
Yeshua's faith and mine: those who merely rule to survive are condemned to die and those who die a thousand deaths live on even here and now.
Utopian? The ultimate reality!
So yes, we go on voting. For a better world.
Friday, October 17, 2003
What a beautiful mystery life is, a painful mystery
I know a child who didn't ask to be born
he didn't ask to be different from the others
nor to be struck by meningitis soon after birth
nor to journey through life, year in and year out,
carrying on his frail shoulders, a far too heavy, beautifully carved
and curly head filled to the brim with music and poems
to scatter love, plentifully, to scatter to the four corners of the earth!
Tons and tons of it!
"He's not like the others", whispered some, awkwardly,
as they passed by, he heard it all and said nothing! Told me later!
His gaze understanding "those not like him!"
In those days, meningitis mostly killed its prey
he lived and lives on still, suffering, Oh! yes!
so close to another fellowman born "not like the others"
Jesus, of Nazareth village, apprentice carpenter, a lover!
In Jesus, in Jean: no bitterness. Storms and revolts appeased
life goes towards its fulfilment. A life meaningful in pain and
and pleasure, joy, tears and laughter and Oh! so filled with love
and light, not quite as the "world gives it" but simply
as Love man MAN lives it!
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Moses on the road to the promised Land
as the pilgrims plod on and on, on his footsteps!
he lingers a few moments with Yahweh
his beloved friend
while Aaron, fearing the angry, impatient crowd,
gives in to them and makes a calf
out of their golden tits and bits!
Freed from Pharaons' slavery, they give themselves as
slaves to the calf, their new golden master
Thanks to Moses, the new slaves repent, Yahweh forgives!
Like Yeshuah, his beloved child, does today still
in our golden calves ridden modern world
"Share bread and wine and water" says he
to the little people of the land, here I am with you
Yom Kippour today, here and now
Saturday, October 04, 2003
Francis of Assisi: where do we find his spirit of compassionate love and freedom?
In Assisi, built, shaken by earthquake and rebuilt?
In a multitude of holy places? May be. In Mount Alverna? May be too.
Francis' spirit moves, I think, in contacts with our Muslims friends to day
as in Francis' own days: "Francis got an audience with Sultan Malek-el-Kamel.
They met and listened to each other. They respected each other and built bridges of understanding".
Francis' spirit moves in people all around him and far beyond: especially in the poor,
the sick, the lepers, his brothers, his sisters, the outcasts of all sorts.
Francis' spirit moves all around in creation, when the birds sing, the lambs and goats bleat; Francis speaks with the wolves, the cats, the dogs as he does with people,
as he does with his God and mine.
Francis is simply part and parcel of creation and knows it!
Francis is way beyond the structures and rulings of any system, any organization, any hierarchy. He is a free man. Freed by his daring love.
To be a franciscan, to claim a franciscan spirituality?
In closed up, self protecting institutions? What a challenge!
Friday, October 03, 2003
Our homeboy: JM Coetzee
South Africa's latest Nobel Prize-winner,
Swedish Academy permanent secretary Horace Angdahl said:
"We are convinced of the lasting value of J.M. Coetzee's contribution to literature.
I'm not speaking of the number of books, but the variety, and the very high average quality. He is a writer that will continue to be discussed and analysed."
Although, J.M. Coetzee is not very wide read in his natal land, he has had a strong influence on a generation of young black and white writers, including Mike Nicol,
Ivan Vadislavic, Zoe Wicomb and Zakes Mda.
"We can be proud of our homeboy," said Professor Stephen Gray, an author friend of his. "
(From Mail and Guardian 3rd October 2003)
J.M. Coetzee, like others, is no prophet in his own country, simply because he tried,
in his book "Disgrace" (1999) to show the complexity of post apartheid society,
when it comes to relationship, love and living together in a timidly,
painfully emerging rainbow nation.
Some ANC members in power today, accused Coetzee of racism, but no,
his writing show clearly that he is most "colourfully colourblind"
and we treasure our own Madiba, Nelson Mandela, congratulation of the homeboy:
"For a small country here on the southern tip of Africa to have produced two Nobel Prize winners in literature is indeed a remarkable achievement," Mandela said in a statement.
"He (J.M. Coetzee) might have emigrated but we shall continue to claim him as our own.
His consistent portrayal of the violence and distortions of colonialism and apartheid
have made him an intellectual hero in the history of our country."
He left his beloved South Africa for self imposed exile in Australia 2 years ago.
Coetzee writes: "I am not a herald of community or anything else.
I am someone who has intimations of freedom (as every chained prisoner has)
and constructs representations of people slipping their chains
and turning their faces to the light."
Guardian angels: happy feast!
I need not say why, in South Africa, we all had such
a lively devotion to our Guardian Angels! One thing is sure:
they had no skin colour and they were colour blind!
So we happily broke apartheid laws knowing the angels,
our beloved "security police", were around to keep away
the other police and help us be prudent and wise in our struggle!
"Guardian Angel from heaven so bright,
Watching beside me to lead me aright,
Fold thy wings round me, and guard me with love,
Softly sing songs to me of heaven above. Amen."
we sang and sang angels songs and feared not
for their presence was lke a gentle powerful breath of wind and still is,
to this very day, as we build this rainbow
South African Nation