Friday, March 13, 2009
What an amazingly beautiful city! I arrived in Capetown without mishap (just about 18 hours of travel) from Douala, Cameroon. I was met by my hosts and taken to their home: first world comforts again. A special bonus was learning that my seminary roommate had followed up on a suggestion and arranged to come to Capetown too; he is in Grahamstown, S. Africa on a sabbatical from his parish. We have had an excellent time, meeting church dignitaries and tertiaries. Yesterday we were on our own to do "tourist attractions" so we ascended Table Mountain in a cable car and then took a boat out to Robbins Island. The view from the top of the mountain is extraordinary.
The emotional highlight of my visit to Capetown was the visit to Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela and the other South African leaders were incarcerated under the Nationalist Party regime. Their treatment was horrifying, yet they managed to not only survive but to overcome the temptation to bitterness or retaliation. I was astonished to read a statement from Ahmed Kathrada who was imprisoned 26 years:
"While we will not forget the brutality of apartheid, we will not want Robben Island to be a monument of our hardship and suffering. We would want it to be a triumph of the human spirit against the forces of evil. A triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small minds and pettiness; a triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness; a triumph of the new South Africa over the old."
Today I begin the Third Order Retreat, then Monday travel on to Zimbabwe. Please keep me and the Franciscan brothers of the Community of the Divine Compassion in your prayers. They are Anglican Franciscans in covenant with the Society of St. Francis.