Most South Africans take their annual leave in December. It is mid-summer and those of us who live in Johannesburg travel down to one or other of our beautiful coastal towns to soak up the sun and enjoy the surf. I don’t usually travel during this period. Instead, I like to soak up the quietness and ‘non-rush’ that prevails in Johannesburg during this time.
My usual ‘stay at home’ pattern changed this season. In early December, I spent 10 days in Cape Town with my son and his wife who were out from Zurich. It was over the soccer World Cup draw and Cape Town was buzzing. There was a lot of excitement and optimism. South Africans are outgoing people who love sport. We are hospitable and want to make this a memorable event for those who decide to visit our country in June 2010.
Just before leaving for Cape Town my wife received a horrific email (that was doing its rounds) from a family member. The email depicted violent crimes in gruesome detail that were being carried out against our farmers. The email called on South Africans to boycott and not support the soccer World Cup due to the violence that was occurring in our communities. There was the feeling that our Government was not doing enough to combat crime and violence in our society. The country was not safe.
South Africa is a country of dilemmas. It is a country where good and bad; order and chaos are in constant interaction with each other. It is a country that challenges your values and often tests your resolve to live in an honest and respectful way. There may be events that unsettle you and get you to question your beliefs and/or your faith in people. Living in South Africa, I find myself recalling a statement that Neale Walsh wrote in one of the ‘Conversations with God’ books: ‘Forget not who you are in the encirclement of what you are not’. It is a country that continually challenges you to align yourself to your highest vision of ‘who you are’ and on a more expansive level, to how you want to participate in the community that you live in.
We had our extended family over for Christmas day. While it was a joyful occasion, there was a part of me that felt a little sad initially. I have two sons, both living abroad. While I had one son celebrating Christmas with us, my other son, was alone in Richmond, Virginia, many miles away. There was nothing I could do about it. This was the nature of the situation. As I pondered on this, I felt my dilemma dissolve when I realised that special relationships transcend time and distance. And with this realisation, I felt an inner peace.
In the first week of January, I find myself ‘getting ready’ for the new year. I actively go about creating order and space around myself in my home and my work context. I usually do a spring clean and get all of my admin work up to date. On a basic level, I like to take the first week or so of January to get organised. I like to write a reflection of the past year (trying to identify patterns and processes that may have been of value to me and to capture those patterns of behaviour that may have hindered me or blocked my expansion). Once I have considered the past patterns, I take time to look forward and to write a ‘vision’ for myself. This vision helps to remind me of those parts of myself that need to be developed and those parts of myself that I am appreciative of. My written vision is a reminder to myself of what I want to align myself with and how I want to live my life.
Today my wife and I dropped off some old clothes, a computer that we no longer use, computer games, sports equipment and some old furniture to a charity a block away from our home. This charity is run by one proactive and energetic woman. She has worked there on a voluntary basis for the past 10 years. Whenever I take stuff to her, she is very appreciative. When I arrive to off load stuff she helps me unpack my car. She is spontaneous and nothing seems to be too much trouble for her. She is not shy of work. She is self-sufficient and does not have any helpers to assist her in her work.
She liaises with needy communities and passes on furniture, books and food that has been donated. She is a go-between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. I admire her. She is a wonderful living example of the true South African spirit.
May you always see yourself in your highest vision and brightest light in 2010.