Friday, August 3, 2018
This week I managed to do again what I’ve said often I will not: I added another book to my collection. Book lovers like me will not understand that to be a problem, but if you’ve seen my already groaning office shelves – particularly the still-to-read section – you would know why I try, in vain, to hold off on more. However, before I divulge what this new book is, in feeble defense I share one of the daily wisdom quotes found on my desk calendar this week, with words from C.S. Lewis:
“Remember that there are only three kinds of things anyone need ever do.
1. Things we ought to do.
2. Things we’ve got to do.
3. Things we like doing.
I say this because some people seem to spend so much of their time doing things for none of the three reasons,
things like reading books they don’t like because other people read them.”
There are two things to note: I rarely do the latter. Not anymore anyway. And to use C.S. Lewis’ wisdom as defense of purchasing a book I like but do not need… well, that’s a good stretch. But the truth is, among the many things I don’t have time to do right now, I really wanted to have more of what I like around me, and that includes the extraordinary story and wisdom of Nelson Mandela. Thus, the physically and emotionally weighty addition to my shelves is the recently released Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela, edited by Sahm Venter with a Foreword by his granddaughter Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela. The book is as exceptional as it sounds.
Why all this, and why right now? In part, because it coincides with what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday. It will also soon be 5 years since his death. Even with this passage of time, the world seems to be only just starting to understand his impact on the global trajectory. Mandela was not perfect, and while I was largely unaware of that when I first researched and wrote rather idealistically about him, 30 years ago and counting, he was and is a figure beyond sufficient words. And so, I suppose, that is why I was quite taken by the possibility of reading more from his hand and heart, first offered at such an unimaginable time in his life.
The Scripture that we’ll hear and process some more this Sunday is another prison letter, albeit from a very different time and place; and arguably less traceable in origin. However, it is nonetheless a hope-filled, determined, sacred part of our collective story, and such a vital way for us to come alongside Jesus-followers across the centuries, seeking to understand more of who we are called to be, today. There’s no attempt to be these authors, but to grow from them, with them, trusting that God worked within them and through them. The same is true for us, of God in and through us, and while our stories may not ever make it to print, they are treasured and worthy, and essential pieces of this life’s beautiful puzzle. How blessed are we, to come together again with thankfulness for all of the above, and so much more.
With hope-filled love to you all,
“Do not worry about me now. I am happy, well and full of strength and hope.”
(Nelson Mandela; 4 February 1969, Robben Island)