Some last reflections from our trip to Robben Island last weekend

[1]: Before i even look at my notes, what stands out to me was the depth of conversation – i barely knew anyone that we went with, so mostly new friends or people i had met once or twice before and yet we dived in to some deep conversations that happened so naturally. Probably because we all knew why we were there, but none of them felt forced or engineered. One lady who i met, Nicole, had been introduced to me on Facebook a couple of months ago and so we had had some interactions but we [her, me and tbV] spent most of the boat ride to Robben Island involved in deep conversation about race and the country and other things. I felt like once we’d arrived at the island, i could have been put straight back on the boat, sent home and the weekend would have felt worth it. And those conversations carried on throughout the weekend.

 
 

convo

 
 

[2] The idea that if my aim in life is for a big house, a comfortable car and a happy family, that my vision is too small.

Each one of us should be dreaming of, hoping for and living towards a unified and reconciled South Africa. To suggest your vision is too small is not a pronouncement of judgement, but it is a blowing of the trumpet [or maybe in our case the sounding of the vuvuzela]. A call to freedom with the realisation that i am not free until everyone is free.
 
 

blow

 
 

[3] That the duel dangers of Pride and Insignificance stem from the same root cause:

Pride = I’m good enough

Insignificance = I’m not good enough

Both start from the place of having all eyes on me. When God calls us to put Him above everything and then to look to others and ourselves.
 
 

mirror

 
 

[4] In Judges 6, we see an encounter between an angel sent from God and Gideon, and despite context telling us that Gideon was a scared and cowardly man, the greeting shows us something completely different:

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

The reminder that God views us both as we are and what we can be. He refuses to dwell on who we were.

 
 

[5] A reminder for me that i never wanted to go to Robben Island simply as a tourist activity. Take lots of pictures, see all the sights, okay i’m done, move on. The privilege of having a significant encounter and the time of a whole weekend to really appreciate and learn from what happened there and see how it informs the present and works towards affecting the future.

 
 

[6] The last significant thing i remember from the trip was a Franciscan Blessing, that Rene August shared with us, which was so profoundly deep and transformative and certainly something to revisit regularly:

May God bless you with a restless discomfort

about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,

so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger

at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,

so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears

to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,

so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness

to believe that you really can make a difference in this world,

so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

[“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Micah 6:8]

 
 

[7] Although, after all the significance and meaning, and historical impact…

After all the tears and hugs and stories and prayers…

After prophetic acts and revelations and possibilities and moments of shared pain…

One of the images that will stand out for me about this most excellent adventure was that of my new friend, covered in tattoos including some showing affiliation with gangs while serving the thirteen year jail service he completed a few years ago… lying on his bed, late at night, once everyone was asleep, playing Plants vs Zombies on his tablet.

Or me humming the theme tune every time i saw him during the day and him responding with a guilty smile…

 
 

pvz

 
 

There was a lot more that words on a page or screen just cannot capture, but these past few posts have just contained some gems and some foundations for future growth and wrestling that needs to happen and is in the process of.

What a great and significant weekend with a number of really incredible people. If the future of South Africa lies in the hands, tongues and lives of people like these, we are looking good. There is a reason to be filled with hope.

For more information on Freedom Mantle, who organised the whole trip, check them out at http://freedommantle.org or join them on Facebook.

 
 

[For a return to the start of this series and some more reflections, click here]

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