The Clouds Do Not Linger Long, Yet They Arrive Unexpected
Spending the day with former prisoner Eddie Daniels yesterday was a gift beyond compare. He kept thanking us, his listeners from all over the world, for applying pressure to, at first, ease the Apartheid government’s dehumanizing treatment of inmates and ultimately for the pressure that ended Apartheid rule. Our policies of divestment in South African economics were the tools for dismantling this oppressive regime. It worked.
I thanked Eddie for his witness and suffering that was an inspiration to us. He told us he didn’t choose to go through his 15 years in prison but I assured him he did so with Grace. Again, he credits the caliber of the men he was with on Robben Island for his transformation from angry saboteur to a man of forgiveness.
He recounted stories of his time with Mandela and always referred to him as “magnanimous.” Mandela was an inspiration who did not allow a morning of beatings by guards break his spirit. When retuning to the yard to break rocks he held his head high and walked tall. Evil had not won, even in an evil climate.
The clouds that rolled in as we retuned to Cape Town from the island, seemed to change the tenor of our day. The ferry ride out had been so sunny and clear. By noon the mist and fog told a different story. I could sense my mood beginning to shift based on the change in weather. I was just saying to myself how glad I was that I got those pictures of the mountains and FIFA stadium when we set out.
But this fog was not to last long in this land. The terrain here brings up sudden clouds as a late spring cold front moves in. Dramatic shifts in cloud cover change scenery from above and below almost every hour. Indeed, such as climate changes here are what make for great winegrowing.
I reflected during evening prayers that Mandela could keep his head up high because he knew the climate was not always going to be evil.
If our mood cannot be altered by the sudden onset of the storm, the cloud and the rain and we have our mind fix firmly on the sun which will surely return, I can begin to understand how positive leadership and witness for God’s life in us can endure in me. I should not hang the hat of my mood on the climate around me.
Such perseverance and endurance are the moldings of character. That is my learning for a full day between Mandela’s cell and the tour of this beautiful coastland.