Waiting... and hoping...
Notes from a Reader
At 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
‘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.
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