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It was just a shopping trip

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It was just a shopping trip
Returning from a normal shopping trip with my daughter; the car radio plays quietly while we are planning the rest of the afternoon and possible evening .  The dual carriageway is reduced to one through a series of cones. Therefore our slow pace gives us time to see the person on the bridge ahead which we are about to pass under. My first thought is to hope they do not throw anything onto the car, it’s that sort of area (self-preservation being my first instinct). The figure on the bridge moves to the metal fencing and she climbs over. A shock fills our car I ask Ruth to stop the car holding up the traffic behind us. We rush out.  Ruth on the phone, me towards what I now know is a teenage girl. I try to engage her in conversation.  I keep telling her my name and asking hers, she does not give it. The desperate dialogue is one way. In the background I can hear Ruth telling the police where we are. Above me the girl is so close to the edge of the bridge her so…

Tokens of Trust

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Tokens of Trust by Rowan Williams

I have been deeply jolted to the importance of the role of trust in my life and the cost when trust has been missing. Many years ago I spent a long time at the top of a cliff roped and secured being encouraged to abseil over the edge to the bottom a number of feet below. No matter how much my highly competent friend encouraged me to trust him and the equipment, I could not. During the same period of my life it was my job to service the fire service turntable ladders, which meant climbing 100 feet to the top of them. This I did many times never without a sense of anticipation, trusting the mechanics and workmanship that had been carried out. But it is with people where trust is cashed out or held back, reaping rewards or crippling relationships.
I think the book has jolted me to understand my role as a professional truster  As a stipended priest I am called to model to, and with, my community my profession of trust. As I reflect upon 13 years of my li…

It was our Walk To Freedom

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It was our Walk To Freedom
It was our Walk To Freedom tour day. All we knew is that we ended up on Robben Island so we could peer into Nelson Mandela' cell.  The tour bus is on time and the day starts well, a mini bus full of people we have never met before and will never see again. The guide talks us through Cape Town points of interest bringing us to the District 6 Museum.
The late morning brings us to the Langa Township where we come to a reception area not unlike many community centers I have visited on outer estates in England, where people are trying to do good work in challenging situations. We are given the opportunity to see some pottery painted by two township women with no sense of passion for their task. I have seen that look before on the faces of people serving fast food late at night near the end of a shift but not near enough. The corridors are littered with stuff made by local township artisans. This corridor I believe is supposed to instill in us a sense of achie…

Cape Town, I am not a bad person

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I am not a bad person


While my wife is shopping  in Johannesburg  I decide to walk down the street to see if i can find a coffee. It’s called distraction therapy. In my peripheral vision I see an in coming beggar. Like all discerning white men i take evasive action and do a 180, too late in coming beggar engages me. Not to worry training seems to kick in, course of action is to ignore and look aloof keep walking and repeat silently “she does not exist” , dam it she is persistent. Not far to the shop were wife is engaged in therapeutic therapy, just a few more steps. Beggar unusually persistent right to the door she is saying something, she is making me feel uncomfortable, before the shop and safety dame it she touches me, I am not prepared for this physical contact this is not part of the training. I turn and acknowledge her, I even act surprised, she is better at this game than I. All my training is failed i am faced with a young black woman and her stink. Somewhere beyond the smell…

Paris Brown

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Paris Brown

I am not a bad person

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I am not a bad person While my wife is in the shop, I decide to walk down the street to see if I can find a coffee. It’s called distraction therapy. In my peripheral vision, I see an in- coming beggar. Like all discerning white men, I take evasive action and do a 180. Too late; the in-coming beggar engages me. Not to worry, training seems to kick in. The next course of action is to ignore and look aloof, keep walking and repeat silently, she does not exist. Damn it, she is persistent. Not long to the shop where the wife is engaged in therapeutic therapy, just a few more steps. The beggar is unusually persistent. Right to the door, she is saying something; she is making me feel uncomfortable. Before I reach the shop and safety, damn it, she touches me! I am not prepared for this physical contact; this is not part of the training. I turn and acknowledge her. I even act surprised. She is better at this game than I. All my training is failed; I am faced with a young black woman and her sti…