#UNITEBEHIND

#UNITEBEHIND

August 6, 2017  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on #UNITEBEHIND

Monday 7 August at 3 p.m.

A large coalition of civil society organisations under the banner #UniteBehind—have appealed to Faith Communities to support the march to Parliament on 7 August at 3 p.m. The march takes place the day before the “vote of no confidence” in parliament and its aim is to add pressure to recall the President. The march is not aligned to any political party.

July 30, 2017  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on

If you are neutral in situations of injustice,
you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse
and you say that you are neutral,
the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

~ Desmond Tutu


Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus

There is a psychological phenomenon known as the bystander effect, where it has been found to be less likely for an individual to offer help to another with others standing around. It is as if there is a pause in the moment and if no one steps in, everyone simply watches on. Desmond Tutu would describe this to be a state of neutrality. “If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse” he names, “and you say that you are neutral, the elephant will not appreciate your neutrality.”

God’s grace alive in the world and in our lives, should evoke within us a response. Randy Maddox calls this, “responsible grace”—grace that is so fully realized that all we know to do then is to respond to it with the way we live our lives. With the state of the world today, it is important for people of faith to pray about the response they will offer to the grace of God at work in their lives. It is about the orientation of our life and neutrality is not an orientation that brings movement or change.

Phyllis Tickle has shared that every 500 years or so, the Church should have a rummage sale, assessing what needs to be kept and what needs to be thrown out. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation of the Church, where leaders like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Methodists own John Wesley struggled with the way the Church was leading and began movements for change. If Phyllis Tickle was right, we are in the years of the great rummage sale, where much of our life together needs to be assessed and all of us need to ready ourselves for great change.

With so many issues to respond to, we can easily be swallowed up in too much movement and lose sight of the rhythmic quality of being that when we find our way in it highlights God’s grace alive in who we are.

The life of grace is a life of finding ourselves in step with the unfolding realities around us that are making way for change. Not all of us are called to lead in these unfolding realities, but we are to have eyes to see, ears to hear, and feet that help us to move. May we find ourselves inspired by the movement for change around us and surprised by the ways we can be utilized as instruments simply by the response of our lives. These are days for people of faith to becoming more and more fully alive.

With you on the journey,
Michelle


#UNITEBEHIND

A large coalition of civil society organisations under the banner #UniteBehind
have appealed to Faith Communities to support the march to
Parliament on 7 August at 3 p.m. The march takes place the day before
the “vote of no confidence” in parliament and its aim is to add pressure to
recall the President. The march is not aligned to any political party.

 

July 23, 2017  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on

ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza
is a shining example of courageous leadership and integrity.

I have been trying to rest but now it is not the time for me to retreat.

I have been singled out as a troublemaker by those that would have me go quiet. I have been accused of extreme ill-discipline for standing for what I believe.

Whilst many of my comrades support me some have come after me, accused me of sedition as they have chosen to side with those that would hurt me, our movement and indeed murder of our nation.

I made a conscious decision when these death threats began that if indeed death was to be my reward then I was not going to die silently.

Many of our comrades have died silently – the memory of a young woman who dared to “cry rape” against a powerful man lingers in the atmosphere, even as she was banished to die a silent death.

Our comrades have dropped like flies in Richmond, Umzimkhulu and other areas – the deaths amount to over 80 in total; yet before even one person has been brought to justice for the merciless killing of our comrades, it is me that they would want to exact their sinister justice on. Yet, why should I die silently? Why should my body be added to those who have died innocently and keep quiet about it? Many of my comrades died while remaining silent, many of my comrades will die silently still, (especially as December approaches) yet those who accuse me have done nothing about it. They have let our dead comrades down, now they come for those of us who are alive. They can’t kill us all. Let them label me but I for one have made my mind up, I will not go quietly into the night. The death threats continue.

Makhosi Busisiwe Khoza
20 July 2017


 Grace and peace to you and through you

There is a modern day parable about a Monastery that had fallen on hard times…basically the old monks were dying without being replaced by the next generation. So the Abbot of the Monastery goes to visit a Rabbi who occasionally retreated at a hut deep in the forest. The Abbot asks for advice but the Rabbi says he has none to give…except a parting comment about “the messiah is among you” or as some versions say, “the messiah is one of you”. As the parable goes the monks begin to relate to each other in new and wonder-full ways…all due to the possibility that one of them may be the messiah. And slowly the monastery is revitalised with a new Spirit and this begins to attract the interest of visitors to the area.

As a parable there are beautiful meanings we can draw from it, not least we learn that often it is our parting or throw away comments that land and take greatest effect.

At other times when we go looking for guidance we find the Rabbi is absent and the destined forest hut unoccupied. Its emptiness enlarges our own sense of emptiness and its vacancy adds to our lost-ness.

With time and with grace we may be nourished in the emptiness or with more time and lots more grace, the emptiness itself may be transformed into nourishment. It is impossible to explain, a bit like water into wine.

For the passing comments that have given us new life – let us be grateful. And for the nourishment within emptiness and nourishment of emptiness – let us bow.

Here is a poem that invites us to trust if we find the forest hut empty…

A wanderer comes at last
to the forest hut where it was promised
someone wise would receive him.
And there’s no one there; birds and small animals
flutter and vanish, then return to observe.
No human eyes meet his.
But in the hut there’s food,
set to keep warm beside glowing logs,
and fragrant garments to fit him, replacing
the rags of his journey,
and a bed of heather from the hills.
He stays there waiting. Each day the fire
is replenished, the pot refilled while he sleeps.
He draws up water from the well,
writes of his travels, listens for footsteps.
Little by little he finds
the absent sage is speaking to him,
is present.
This is the way
you have spoken to me, the way – startled –
I find I have heard you. When I need it,
a book or a slip of paper
appears in my hand, inscribed by yours: messages
until I would listen.

“The Spirits Appeased” by Denise Levertov

Grace,
Alan

 

 

There is another way

There is another way

July 16, 2017  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on There is another way

Grace and peace to you and through you

Each time Jesus encounters a woman in scripture, he breaches social convention. For instance, Jesus crosses boundaries of race, class, religion, purity, and ethnicity when he meets the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-26), the bleeding woman (Mark 5:25–34), and the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15:21–28, Mark 7:24–30). Even the fact that women were among the followers of Jesus, and he seriously taught them, is a break with tradition unprecedented in [then] contemporary Judaism.

In Jesus’ time a woman’s identity was determined by her marital status and if she had produced male children. Although valued for this function, women were perceived as less capable and weaker than men. The philosophy of the day placed humanity on a spectrum, with women as less-complete versions of men. Jesus’ actions are radical because he treats women as being valuable in-and-of themselves, not in relation to men.

Some things have changed since Jesus’ time, but how we think about women continues to shape how we treat others. High rates of violence against women and children in SA indicate that women are still not valued as equal to males. According to the Saartjie Bartman Centre for Women and Children, as of 2015, a woman is either raped or battered every four minutes in South Africa. Violence against women transcends race and class but just because an individual isn’t physically abusive doesn’t mean they are not contributing to the violence. Violence is rooted in women’s lack of power relative to men in society: it is an outgrowth of the idea that women are less than men. Now, all of us have ideas in our head implanted by our culture. Most of these concepts just float around in our head without attracting much attention or getting in the way of who we want to be, but sometimes the ideas we’ve absorbed undermine the people we are trying to be, or run counter to the world we want to help build.

Jesus understood that the subjugation of women thwarts their dreams and aspirations, as they grow up being told that they are less valuable and able than their male counterparts. The domination of women instils feelings of entitlement to respect, sex, and control in men: control over households, businesses, political systems or even countries. It also burdens young boys with expectations to fulfil, including an ill-conceived and misdirected ‘machoness’ which results in men exercising power (sometimes physically), over both women and children. Jesus’ actions are just as radical today as they were 2000 years ago because they speak to an underlying belief about women that harms not only women and children, but men as well.

What Jesus’ actions, and our reading from today, show is that the way things have always been done, is not the way things have to be. Just because a particular way of being has become tradition, and embedded within a culture, does not mean it is part of the relational and mutually beneficial abundant life to which Jesus calls us. Instead, Jesus’ teaching indicates that Jesus forbids any hierarchy in Christian relationships (Mt 20:25–26a, Mk 10:42, Lk 22:25); and scripture invites us to live into a way of life beyond what we currently experience but which Jesus has already proclaimed: a world in which “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, [and we] are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Grace,
Mia

If you or someone you know is the victim of gender based violence (physically, emotionally, sexually, financially) you can call the free Stop Gender Violence Helpline 24hrs/7days per week for more information and counselling: 0800-150-150.

Blowing in the wind

Blowing in the wind

July 9, 2017  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Blowing in the wind

Grace and Peace to each of you in the life-giving name of Jesus,

It was fifty-five years ago today that Bob Dylan wrote the song, “Blowing in the wind.” This song in its history was a movement song. It was sung during a voter registration rally in Greenwood, Mississippi by Dylan himself. Peter, Paul, and Mary sang their version of it just before MLK Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and streams of people sang it on the march from Selma to Montgomery.
It is as if Dylan imbibed the anguish of the psalmist who cries, “How Long O Lord?”

Blowing in the Wind

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand
Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, ‘n’ how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea
Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free
Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, ‘n’ how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
Bob Dylan

Over the years, people have asked Bob Dylan his meaning behind the line, “the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” He never seemed to provide a definitive interpretation. So, the interpretation is left to the listener.

“Wind,” for people of faith, holds an important role. The wind of the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters of creation and new life was breathed into being. The Holy Spirit like winds of flame settled over the disciples during the days of Pentecost inspiring within them the power they would need to walk in the ways that lead to life. One way of interpreting Bob Dylan’s song might be for us to be in search of the winds of change that are blowing in the world today and finding ways to allow ourselves to be caught up in them. I encourage you to listen to Bob Dylan’s,“Blowin’ in the Wind” this week and consider the message it has for us in this day.

With you on the journey,
Michelle

The courage to be

The courage to be

July 2, 2017  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on The courage to be

The phrase “do not be afraid” occurs in the bible 365 times. It alerts us to the truth that life caught up in the ways of God leads to realities that have the capacity to evoke within us a sense of fear. Fear is an emotion that has a target. We are afraid of “the dark,” afraid of “heights,” afraid of “dogs,” afraid of “speaking in public,” afraid of “going to a place we perceive to be unsafe” or “doing a thing that God seems to be putting before us to do.” Paul Tillich in his book, The Courage to Be, talks about how anxiety, which he names as something different than fear, can hold us back from true “being.” Anxiety is for him, “the state in which a being is aware of its possible nonbeing.”

There are three types of anxieties that are named: the anxiety of fate and death, the anxiety of emptiness and meaninglessness, and the anxiety of guilt and condemnation. To learn more about each, you have to read the book, but the point is, there is a lot of anxiety in the world around us and much worry about the possibility of “nonbeing.” Tillich names that the “whole of the spiritual life is about learning to die.” Learning to let the anxiousness die and the courage to be to rise.

The world around us and events of our days locate so many in an anxious state. The questions are hard to answer: “How can my life make a difference with the world-wide water crisis?” “What are we to do about the gangs initiating children and giving them guns & drugs to deal?” “What will happen under this current political climate?” “How do I raise my children in the way they should go?” “Should I have children?” “How do I find my feet on the path that leads to wholeness, healing, and health in myself and the world around me?”

When one living with the courage to be hears the words Mary said, “Let it be with me according to your will,” they ask, “What is the will of God in my life?” When one living in the trap of anxiety hears the words, “Let it be with me according to your word,” they ask, “what is IT?” There are many reasons we find ourselves in anxious states. The reality is that within the landscape of each of our lives there is brokenness and pain to be walked through that is real and can cause a state of ongoing anxiety that we cannot manage on our own. For Tillich, it is of the utmost importance for us to recognize the spiritual aspect to states of anxiousness.

Peter was anxious when people asked him if he was one of Jesus’ followers. His life changed markedly once he received the power of the Holy Spirit. He was able to stand in the middle of a crowd in the power of the Holy Spirit and speak a truth that would have shaken the foundations around him. In the midst of these days when so many are living with a higher level of anxiety about the struggles of the world, let us remember that it is the job of the Holy Spirit of God to take the lead.

When we find within ourselves the “courage to be,” the hard questions don’t go away, but our means of navigating through them changes. Wendell Berry puts it beautifully when he says, “Then what I am afraid of comes. I live for a while in its sight. What I fear in it leaves it, and the fear of it leaves me. It sings and I hear its song.” May the Holy Spirit guide us in ways that our fears and anxieties of living in these present days become a distant song so that we are able to truly be.

With you on the journey,
Michelle

 

 

Set the prisoners free

Set the prisoners free

June 25, 2017  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Set the prisoners free

Grace and peace to you and through you

Jesus’ first sermon is a list of the areas God declares freedom from oppression, including freedom from poverty, ill health, and economic injustice (Luke 4:16–21). Within this passage, Jesus specifically states “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.” Jesus is not only saying prisoners should be free; he is declaring that prisoners already are free and that it is not God but humankind who tries to deny this freedom through imprisonment. Yet, when people first hear about efforts to abolish the prison systems around the world, they commonly respond by writing it off as a utopian fantasy. There is a belief that we need prisons and the suggestion that we do not need systems to confine or punish people seems too far-fetched, and in general, people aim lower than the call of freedom Christ issued.

At times in history, the church has even reinforced the idea that some people need to be removed from society; it was Quaker and Methodist penitentiary models that birthed solitary confinement from a belief that those convicted would be humanly rehabilitated through “penance” for their crime. But such a perspective reinforces the view of empire which tries to designate some as “good” and others as “bad,” some as “worthy” and others as “undeserving” be it of freedom, housing, health care, or even another chance. In her fantastic book, Are Prisons Obsolete Angela Davis reminds us that prisons also serve an ideological function, relieving communities of their responsibility to address the problems of society by scapegoating particular people as the cause problem and then isolating them from society.

If we find our self asking “but what is the alternative to prisons?” then we have yet to escape the belief that the world cannot operate without punishment and isolation. We see this at a social level but also within our relationships. How often have we said relationships with those unlike us are too hard or that we don’t want to be associated with that person who is “nothing but trouble”? Often it is easier to isolate ourselves from, or punish others, rather than do the hard work of addressing problems of society or relationships. What we are saying in these actions is that institutions, relationships, and people are beyond God’s redemptive reach. We sell God short, not because God cannot, but because we have trouble imagining beyond the possibilities currently before us.

We lack a long-term imagination, but throughout scripture, we are invited to see the world beyond what we are currently experiencing. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The biblical call is to love ones’ neighbors (Mark 31), free the captives, care for the oppressed (Luke 4:8, James 1:27). The disciples did not live in a world where each of these calls were lived out by the entire community. But the vision scripture puts forth is one they could, and we may, participate in when we can imagine life being different than how we currently experience it — not in the afterlife or a different place, but here on earth within our and future generations.

A handbook, Instead of Prisons explains that abolitionists believe “Imprisonment is morally reprehensible and indefensible and must be abolished. In an enlightened free society, prison cannot endure for it to prevail. Abolition is a long term goal; an ideal. The eradication of any oppressive system is not an easy task. But it is realizable, like the abolition of slavery or any liberation, so long as there is the will to engage in the struggle.”

Be it the struggle for prison abolition, or imagining a world without anxiety, unemployment, or relational breakdown, faithfulness is a willingness to engage in the struggle for the world Jesus has already proclaimed, with an assurance that one day a freedom we can currently only imagine will be our experienced reality.

Grace, Mia

Pay it forward

Pay it forward

June 18, 2017  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Pay it forward

Grace and peace to you and through you

Just in case you missed this story in the press recently, I want to share it with you. It is too beautiful. It is a story of grace and generosity. It is a story of dedication and integrity. It is a story of memory and surprise. It is a story of gratitude and humility. It is a story about our new Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Judge Raymond Zondo and how in 1977 he asked the supermarket owner in Ixopo, Suleman Bux, for food for his family as he sought to study to become a Lawyer.

Earlier this year during Judge Zondo’s interview with the Judicial Services Commission he spoke of his years growing up; and a video of the interview became available as a result of Zondo’s new appointment. In the video Judge Zondo shares:

“When I finished matric I was confident I would get an exemption and qualify to go to university. I was confident I was going to get a bursary too but my problem was at home — the situation was quite bad. My mother lost her job two years before my matric, and my… mother had exhausted all her savings. Somehow I felt that the community had seen how my mother struggled to raise us on her own and expected me to look for work after matric to support her. I wanted to go and do Law and was determined but I felt I couldn’t do that unless I made arrangements to ensure my mother and siblings would have something to eat.”

That was when he approached Bux and asked for a loan. “Very interestingly he didn’t ask many questions and agreed to help me. He said he can’t give me money but will give me a voucher to give to my mother for groceries. Each month my mother would collect groceries up to the value of R20 at his shop until I finished my degree. When I asked him what arrangements we could make so I can repay him, he said don’t worry, Do to others what I have done to you. I thought that was very important and in my own small way I try to do that,” said the Judge.

This seed of generosity and grace was planted 40 years ago! The planter had no clue what had become of the seed. Now there stands a huge tree that is able to provide the shade of justice for a nation where there are too many who cannot afford food and education.

Sometimes it takes 40 years (that beautiful-biblical-birthing number) before we see the trees of our planting and in fact there is no guarantee we will see them at all. Jesus said, “Freely you have received; freely give.”

Grace, Alan

 

My Nakedness

My Nakedness

November 13, 2016  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on My Nakedness
This Sunday the service will be a play – Ubuze Bam –
a worship experience with a difference. 
As a result there will be no recorded sermon.

 

UBUZE BAM

One Reviewer of Ubuze Bam had this to say …

“Literally translated as ‘my nakedness’, Ubuze Bam is a theatrical interpretation of the life events of four ex-inmates, all of whom have spent 10 years or more behind bars. 

Theatre Arts Admin Collective has joined arms with the programme Young in Prison to create this searingly honest piece in which the performers – Lazola, Eric, Ntsika and Bongani – have spent just over a month rehearsing under the direction of Thando Doni. Prior to this performance, the young men had never acted, let alone witnessed a theatre production. 

Young in Prison is a rehabilitation initiative which assists former inmates to transition back into society. The theory is that many ex-cons can learn a number of life-skills which will positively impact their behaviour, and thus reduce the reoffending rate. Originally, the project was meant to engage with youth and young adults who were still in prison, but due to the rat infestation and quarantine at Pollsmoor, the current post-release programme was conceptualised.

The initiative focuses on revisiting the past in a healthy and productive environment. Through a focused, five week-long process, these four participants have been encouraged to engage with and creatively express their stories, and have learnt more about what it means to a powerful piece of art also helps to break down their own negative perception of themselves. And this was made so evident when, as the show ended and the lights went out, above the cheering of the crowd we could hear the actors shouting celebrations of victory from behind the scenes.

As a prologue, the young men explain that the play is “about me and my friends; it’s our secrets”. And the resonating truth of that statement was only fully felt after the show was over. When meeting people, we often only reveal the best parts of ourselves for fear of being judged or ridiculed. So to find myself easily conversing with these men – just minutes after they been describing the violent crimes they had committed – was revelatory. I didn’t see former prisoners; I saw four lionhearted men who are breaking society’s mould which states that you have to wear a mask in order to be accepted.

Despite their lack of experience on a stage, the performance from the young men was deeply emotional and often chilling in its rawness. The level of bravery needed to admit their crimes and their failures and to show their vulnerability was awe-inspiring. While the show itself is artistic, impactful and astonishingly truthful, the greatest significance lies in the road these men have taken.

The heart behind the performance is something to be reckoned with as these young men undergo a journey of breaking chains in every sense.”
Reviewer: Public Spirit

To find out more and to support/donate:
Young in Prison | www.younginprison.org.za

Theatre Arts Admin Collective www.theatreartsadmincollective.weebly.com
Next Performances at Theatre Arts Admin Collective:
18 November at 19:00: Made in India | A Performance Lecture by Amrita Pande
29 November – 3 December at 20:00: Reparation directed by Ameera Conrad

Tickets: R50.00


Methodists Call for Prayer and Fasting
in the Wake of State Capture Report

For Immediate Release | 8 November 2016

The Methodist Church of Southern Africa joins the South African Council of Churches in expressing our shock at what appears to be calculated “intrigue” in the goings on catalogued in the “State of Capture” report.

We acknowledge that the report is preliminary and inconclusive and that the Public Protector has recommended further investigation by a Judicial Commission of Enquiry. We support this call and hope that due processes will be expedited post haste. We find it very unfortunate that as mentioned in the report, the position of the Head of State is becoming increasingly untenable.

We call on all Methodists to commit to prayer and fasting for the nation of South Africa and all creation. We ask that church bells throughout South Africa be rung at 12 noon for 7 days from Sunday 13 November, culminating in concerted prayer on Sunday 20 November 2016. We will, at this time, also pray for President Zuma and all those implicated in the report to interrogate their consciences and do the honourable thing by voluntarily stepping down for the good of the country should they be founding wanting. We acknowledge that in the event of their resignations, this will not dig us out of the political and economic quagmire we find ourselves in today but it will send out a clear signal to a commitment to a new dawn of statesmanship and political accountability.

We further ask all our members to engage in courageous conversations as we pray and seek to discern God’s will for the country, irrespective of our narrow and partisan political persuasions.

Statement released by the office of Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa
Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa

More Information : Bongie | 011 615 1616 |078 131 5137

 

A thread of Love is enough

A thread of Love is enough

October 30, 2016  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on A thread of Love is enough

Grace and peace to you and through you

You have heard me say over and over again that “God is very, very Big”. God is so big that no doctrine, or church or denomination or religion or all the religions combined can have a monopoly over God. All efforts to try and capture God within our language, rituals, traditions or institutions are foolish and futile. At best – seriously – at best we get to see a tiny piece of the hem of God’s garment and by grace we may have within our reach a thread…a single thread…and you know what? That is enough…a thread of Love is enough.

Today however, I want to let you know that God is also very, very small. God is even as small as a four year-old’s little hand. I know this for a fact. Let me explain…

This past Wednesday I spent much of the day in the hot sun. I was surrounded. To my right there was a diesel-spewing Nyala police vehicle irritatingly idling. To my left and behind there was a dehydrated crowd of singing students – angry and passionate and determined. In front of me were Kevlar-clad Police holding see-through-scratched-shields and who were heavily sweating from under their blue helmets. It was a long day for everyone. 

At times I felt tense and anxious, disconnected and desperately helpless especially when things began to break up under the sound of stun grenades. And at other times I had a deep sense of gratitude to be part of an active citizenship courageously calling the powers to account, as I too believe that education should never be a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. There were speeches spoken with prophetic power and compassionate clarity
and others that were inflamed with unhelpful rhetoric. Even as I was trying to process it all I rejoiced to be living in a country where people could speak freely regardless of whether everyone agreed with their every word or not. Sadly the peaceful day ended less peacefully and we were just very fortunate not to have any serious or even fatal injuries.

All in all it was an energy sapping day, both physically and emotionally.

As evening approached I made my way to Stepping Stones Preschool to chair the AGM. We gathered to honour the achievement of getting through another year – which is no small accomplishment in the light of what it costs to provide quality early childhood education. It was my delight to thank the hard working parents of the 104 children for their faithful contributions of fees that keep the school going as well as thanking all the dedicated staff.

The afternoon and the evening couldn’t have seemed more different from each other and yet they were inextricably linked – for pre-school education is a complete game changer when it comes to providing a solid foundation for the rest of a child’s educational endeavours.

After the meeting I walked home with a parent and her 4 year son who has only recently joined the pre-school and who still live semi-homeless lives. As we began walking the little boy looked up at me with his arm outstretched: “Hold my hand…” he said to me. His tone was a mixture of telling me and asking me. So I did. I held his little hand.

At first I thought he needed me to hold his hand. Perhaps he did. After a little while I realised that it was I who needed to hold his hand. And then I wondered whether he knew that I needed to hold his hand and that is why he said: “Hold my hand”.

Holding his little hand filled me with hope. Holding his little hand reignited my commitment to working for a more just future in the present so that the four year olds of today have greater access to life’s crucial resources when they turn twenty.

I now know for a fact that God contracts to the span of a 4 year old’s hand, especially on days when we are tempted to give in to despair for a world ever echoing with stun grenades.

Grace,
Alan