God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

30.07.2009 Packing…now and in general.. somehow…

Packing before flying home from holidays are always a nightmare. Shopping here and shopping there – and suddenly you ask yourself, how all the goodies came together in that little time…
Yes, it is time to fly back and to pick up life where it stopped – the first days are always a nightmare, all the mail and requests, waiting to be answered and worked through. It takes normally a week before normality crawls in again. Makes it seven normal working weeks until hand-over of the chaplaincy.
It is still a funny feeling to know, that my chaplains life will come to an end. After that long period it seems unimaginable not to care for this community and to be part of it. Well, it means a bitter-sweat farewell at the end. On one hand you know that nothing is eternal and every period of life comes to an end, but it is bitter when it comes in a way not expected or deserved. I am grateful for those 12, 5 years – I don’t want to miss a second.. well, maybe a couple of seconds could be missed, but generally it was such a fulfilled time.
So my packing before flying home reminds me also that the time for the big move comes soon – and it will start already next week with moving flats. My lease is coming to an end – and as I don’t want to wait under the bridge before renting again, I have to secure at least a roof over my head. Small practical things – overlooked when big decisions are at steak.

Well, let’s hope that the pilot find the way first to Singapore, then to Johannesburg and Cape Town; and that my luggage will also arrive in one piece. Going via Johannesburg means one has a reasonable chance to find less in the suitcase than packed… Cross my thumbs..

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29.07.2009 Waiting

watpo 2Waiting to go home… waiting is an interesting state of being.. not knowing what to expect but having a lot of fantasies what we wish could and should happen in the next hours or days. We wait a lot.. for our loved ones, for our birthday, for Christmas, for the Easter bunny to bring the eggs. 🙂 and they say when you get older you are more patient while waiting. Is it true? Not sure I have found that kind of wisdom.
Waiting has also to do with becoming silent, feeling time passing slower – being aware of the minutes flowing through our life.

For me this time it is a quite existential waiting – waiting to know what exactly will happen to me and what assignment I will get in the near future. 8 weeks to go in my actual job – and still no news about how life will continue thereafter. For somebody used to plan a year ahead it is an interesting experience, but living the last weeks amongst Thai people I have seen that it is possible to live out of the moment without exactly knowing what the next day will bring.. Surely not always my life philosophy but in these times I feel it can help me to keep my life in balance….

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24.07.2009 one week to go…

When holidays start, then it seems like quite some time – but suddenly, after having done two/third, time seems to run faster and faster…  And one suddenly must make a plan to do all the things still open on ones agenda. Well, this time it isn’t different – and suddenly the realisation, that next week this time, I will already be back in Cape Town, most probably struggling with jet leg and an office full of requests and notes and mails and so on…

What makes this coming home so special is the fact, that with the day I start working again, my last 8 weeks as the chaplain to the German speaking Catholic Community will commence  (if all is going according to plan).  Without knowing exactly until now what will be my next “stage” in life, I have to move from one place to another within Cape Town, I have to wind down all the technicalities which such a hand over requires – and South Africa can be a nightmare in this concern. 12,5 years of service going towards an end.

I feel a bit like Abraham going towards the unknown;  with the difference, that he was much older, and he was called out, not kicked or pushed out – so to speak.  🙂 I am sure I will reflect quite a bit what it meant to me being a chaplain to that very special community in Cape Town – not to forget the folks in Durban. All so special and come what may come, I am aware that it was indeed a privilege to serve those communities the last years.

I always said when we had visitors: “What can be more nice than to be a chaplain in Cape Town?”

Having reflected on it a bit during my holidays I am aware that Cape Town changed me a lot. Living in Africa, living next to Table Mountain, living in vivid history happening in the country in the moment – having such a diverse crowd of faithful from all corners of German speaking parts of the world and quite a lot already distant from the institution “church”, it made me realise that whatever we think we know exactly can quick fade away as I had to learn every day that life is more colourful, more diverse, more exciting, more different than I ever thought.

This diversity, the colourful mixture of God’s brothers and sisters has sometimes an intensity, which definitely you hardly will find back home in parishes in Germany, Austria, Switzerland or all the other places. And adding all the experience through our social project “Hope Cape Town”, the mixture of guests at our Mediterranean Villa – sometimes it could get even for me a bit too much and too hectic…

And then still remains the question: How do you bring this “all” home to Germany? How do explain those on the purely administrative level that such diversity requires sometimes solutions beside “the norm”? How do you open up their hearts and minds that indeed church has to be diverse too – and has been and will always be.  Not that easy….

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09.07.2009 Holiday observation

It is for me again and again a well known phenomena: Short before leaving for holidays, I actually don’t want to go; there is so much still to do, so many things waiting for being accomplished – I find thousand reasons which would justify to postpone the holidays.
The first days are normally feel like the world would stand still.. suddenly quietness and somehow peace, no rushing, to time lines, no demands.. and I can feel that the body must adjust to the missing adrenalin of daily life and performance. It takes time to calm down and to be able to appreciate the free time, the people around you, the delightful food, and your own company. And at the end, it seems a good idea to stay a little bit longer … 🙂

But as much as I am a workaholic during my daily routine, as much I can be a lazy person during holiday time after the cooling down phase. I consider myself the most boring person during the lazy phase of my time out.
It is for me amazing to see and to experience these extreme habits, maybe the saying is right that you need balance in your life; and an extreme life needs extreme balance.

Last but not least is the holiday time ideal to reflect and to see your own life from a bit of a distance. It is sometimes amazing to recall so many things coming suddenly up again, still sleeping under the mountain of constant new experiences and challenges, which makes it almost impossible to deal with all in an appropriate way. There is sometimes too much to absorb, especially, when you are working in the fields and there is a constant demand, not of files waiting on your desk, but of real people and their needs, sorrows and worries, but also joy and happiness, they want to share.

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