When people ask me about South Africa, they occasionally ask something like, “What do you miss about South Africa?”
Here’s my partial list:
- the people, obviously
- in South Africa, I felt like I was closer to the centre of things, not in the sense that I was the centre of the attention (though my skin colour assured me of that) but in a broader sense that it was in places like Itipini that the truly important questions of faith, mission, and reconciliation are most profound.
- I realize this now only in retrospect but I probably felt closer to Christ than at any other time in the past. If Jesus was alive today, I have a feeling he wouldn’t be spending his time at Yale Divinity School.
- Despite all the many obstacles and frustrations, when everything “worked” in just the right way and something happened at least sort of as I wanted it to, the transcendent feeling of satisfaction I had was and is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.
- This last one was added yesterday morning when I went to a church in New Haven known for its high liturgy. It reminded me so much of the congregation I was a part of in South Africa that I felt a sort of “liturgical homesickness.” But I also like being able to understand the sermon.
There’s also a list of things I don’t miss – driving everywhere is one of them – but I’ll save that for another time.