Ash Wednesday, in the Christian churches a day of reflection and fasting – begin of lent, the time in preparation of the highest feast of Christianity, the resurrection of Christ. Being on travel I also reflect on my life. And my first question would be: which life? The life as it isfeatured in the public domain with all the articles in newspapers and magazines and other media? The life of a public person – the “founder” of HOPE Cape Town? or is it the life of the priest, called to holiness on a daily base and representing a church which is battling with all the shortcomings in the moment on a daily base? Or is it the life of Stefan, the friend, the family member, the acquaintance? Or is it the conclusion of all three facets of different lives? Or is it the real me – the person, I only know best and still remains a mystery for myself at the same time – the person who would never fit in all the roles given to me or expectations raised towards me in daily life.
I sometimes wonder how people perceive me and how I perceive me being perceived in public. I see what kind of difference exists in people how they believe they are and how they come across for others; it makes me think twice about my own perceptions.
I guess what counts at the end is how much we live who we are, how much, as we Christians phrase it, we are able to be what we are called for. And how much we are honest with ourselves and strive to bring our being and our doing together. We have to write each of us our own little story with God, our own little bible added to the official one – and as important to God as the latter.
For me the last 10 years have been also years of HOPE in the true sense of the word. This organisation has become a part of my life and I have served HOPE Cape Town in different capacities, as chairperson of the HOPE Cape Town Association, as management member and these days as board member and as chairperson of the HOPE Cape Town Trust as well as management member of the HOPE Kapstadt Stiftung. In all these capacities I was blessed with wonderful moments, with truly interesting and humble visitors who all added to a colourful life.
In the last 25 years I also had the luck to serve as a priest, the longest time as the chaplain to the German-speaking Catholic Communities in Cape Town and in Durban. What a diversity added to my life – what for blessings and possibilities to grow – even in the hardest hours of being nicely disposed as the chaplain in a way which some described as “between diplomacy and dishonesty” – the usual way of getting rid of perceived problems in our days. The toughest hours shape the most and I see them as a challenge to grow.
Lent is the time to reflect – to count the blessings and to see what is still needed on our way through life and what habits have become a burden and could be discharged or left behind. This is a time to allow ourselves a clear and honest picture of ourselves and to experience the unconditional love of God towards us anew. A love which allows us to grow, to change, to resist pressure of fellow man to adjust only to mainstream or to be scared to speak our minds if need be. A love which enables us to love and to cherish our neighbour, our fellow men and women next to us.
I wish all readers a blessed time of lent and at the end not only the celebration of Easter but a celebration of the resurrection of each and everybody of us as a grown human being – able to live life to the fullest and being more identical and reconciled with “myself” .