Waiting... and hoping...

Notes from a Reader
May 2001

Lawrie CrawforthAt Easter week-end one of our national papers printed an interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was reflecting on his life and what part he had played in the developments of his times. As it happened I had been reading parts of his book, ‘The Rainbow People of God’ as my Lenten reading this year.

The interview was a wonderfully open personal response by the now retired Archbishop to his role in the emergence of South Africa from the dark days of apartheid; it also gave him the opportunity in what he called ‘probably the last interview he would give’ - he is suffering from prostate cancer - to reflect on life in a more general way. He is a man who enjoys life in every respect. He is full of humour. He is a man of real determination, as the world saw from his words and actions in his time as Archbishop. He is also a very gentle and humble man, who knows that his gifts were not for himself alone, but for others around him at all times. And he rejoiced in the fact that he had been able to use those gifts.

The Rainbow People...’ is a difficult book to read. Perhaps it is the subject matter that makes it so. In it we are reminded as we read of the situations and conditions of the time in South Africa, things we perhaps would rather not remember; of the appalling conditions that existed there and which he and so many others faced, often with great courage. I also find a book that is comprised of a lot of speeches relating to specific incidents has a tendency to drag somewhat at times.

Through his words both written and spoken, however, Desmond Tutu points his own way towards two great positive attitudes, of hoping and waiting. Some of his early speeches were inspiring, as well as challenging. He was always aware that things and times were changing, so through all the difficulties and problems before him there was always something to hope for even though this would involve open-ended waiting.

As we leave the celebration of Easter behind us, and the memories of our long, slow walk through Lent fade into the background, we too are faced with those same two elements. We wait now for things that are ahead of us in the Christian year - the Ascension, Pentecost - and the hope that we can build on the experiences of our Lenten time of thinking and learning as we try to put into practice those challenges Christ gives to each of us in our lives.

We too must recognise that we all have talents and gifts, underlined by the words and work of the Holy Spirit, and that as with Desmond Tutu those talents and gifts are not ours alone. They are for us to share if they are to be used and useful, just as that Archbishop did and does.

It may not be given to us to make the impact that Desmond Tutu has had on our times, but there are those around us everywhere, and all the time, for whom we can be useful, or helpful, or just simply there. We too need to face the future, our future, with hope and courage. God asks us to wait - but also to act.

Laurie Crawforth

© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 6th May 2001