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St. James Beach: one of my favorite spots to walk
St. James Beach: one of my favorite spots to walk

Yay! Tomorrow I get to go home. I thought as I packed up for the next leg of the recent church trip. On the St. George’s trips to South Africa, we spend our first week in Johannesburg and then fly to Cape Town on Friday. Normally, when I repack for this leg of the trip, I think, I get to go to Cape Town tomorrow! This time I thought, I get to go home. Yay! I miss the mountains and the sea. I miss my flat and my bed. I miss my friends. I miss home.

This line of thinking is a good sign. Cape Town is indeed becoming home to me. However, I was a bit unnerved about this first feeling of home, and I fought against it on the flight to Cape Town and for several days afterwards. Nashville is where my family and friends live; it is where I grew up. It’s home, not Cape Town.

And yet Cape Town is feeling more and more like home, and that’s good—I keep telling myself, although a part of my heart stings. I have had several feelings of “home” during the past month—playing board games on Easter afternoon with the young members of the Adams family, my dear friends, visiting a friend who had a recent operation, routine grocery shopping at the local shops, curling up with a good book on a quiet evening.

Yet it’s ironic; the more I live into life here and the more Cape Town becomes home to me, the more homesick I get for home. I feel the tension. At times it’s intense. At times I want to go home and hug my family. I miss them.

Friends via Nashville Connections
Friends via Nashville Connections

It’s hard living in the in-between of two homes, but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It’s a natural part of adapting to cross-cultural living. I look forward to the day when I can call both cities home without an ache in my heart or at least without the intensity of the ache.

As believers in Jesus Christ, living in the in-between is nothing new. It’s what we’re called to do, being dual citizens of heaven and earth. And at times, that type of living is difficult as well. It is also a tension.

I’m praying for the courage to live with the tension.

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Reclaiming Ubuntu

Archbishop Tutu DancesLast Thursday, I had the honor and privilege to attend Archbishop Tutu’s Templeton Prize thanksgiving service at St. George the Martyr Cathedral. It was a beautiful and joyful service dotted with amazing music by the Cape Town Opera Voice of the Nation Ensemble. I think all of our hearts leapt when Archbishop Tutu started dancing with the ensemble.

 The archbishop accepted the award on behalf of the people of South Africa, saying it was the people’s award. Then he gave one of the most moving speeches I have ever heard. Speaking from the heart and walking in front of the nave of the church, Archbishop Tutu recounted parts of “the struggle” (South Africans who fought against apartheid refer to their fight as “the struggle”) as he came to the heart of his speech, imploring, “What has happened to us? What has happened to us? What has happened to us? . . . God is weeping.” Speaking of the transition to democracy, the archbishop continued, God was proud of us. He was going to show us off as a people who could live together in harmony despite our cultural differences and as a people who would share with one another what they had. “But what has happened to us?” the archbishop asked, referring to the high level of violence in South Africa, especially violence against women, and referring to South Africa’s dubious distinction of being the number one country in the world with the widest gap between rich and poor.

 As Archbishop Tutu walked in front of the nave, crying out from the heart, “What has happened to us?” I no longer saw him as the renown public figure and global icon of peace. I saw him as a beloved grandfather asking his children and grandchildren, all of us in the service and in South Africa, “What has happened to us as a family?”

The archbishop ended his speech by challenging all of us to reclaim the spirit of ubuntu, which to me can ultimately be summed up with Jesus’ two great commandments: Love the Lord God with all of your heart and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. If we did this, we would be living out ubuntu.

Archbishop Tutu’s words have challenged me in a profound way, and I am more determined than ever to try to live a life of ubuntu, both here in South Africa and in the States when I return home. Want you join me by accepting the archbishop’s challenge to reclaim (or claim for the first time) the spirit of ubuntu?