I had the best Good Friday of my life this year. I decided to spend my holy week (from Maunday Thursday to Easter Sunday) at the monastery this year. The brothers were very hospitable and I was able to spend the weekend flooded with beautiful symbolism and tradition. After school on Thursday as the students left for the fall holiday I walked out to the monastery to spend some time reflecting on my time here as well as looking to what next year come July might offer. I enjoyed the evening with my after school students walking the dirt road to the monastery in the dark watching kids be kids, singing dancing, holding hands. Holiday was about to begin for them and I sang along. Just by them calling me Mti (my xhosa name which means tree) I felt welcomed into their joy. We all sat and waited for service to begin as we picked elder berries nibbled on the sour fruit and spit out the pits.
After the service of foot washing and prayer came the opportunity for fasting of food and silence. To symbolize and partake in the even in scripture where Jesus asks his disciples to stay up with him, I took my hour of silent prayer and vigil from 12:30 to 1:30. All who stayed at the monastery took a time of the night and early morning to pray before the sunrise service on Good Friday. During this time on Good Friday I was able to attend sunrise service, morning prayer, midday prayer, and the Good Friday reading of the Passion of Christ. I broke my fast on Friday to have an amazing meal with Noma Miasi (helper of the after school program and grandmother or caretaker of many of the students). I felt so welcomed into her home and family. I could tell she was excited to have me in her home as much as I was excited to eat her food. Playing uno in the dining room before the meal with the kids made me feel like one of the family.
I left the meal high as a kite as we returned to the monastery, the kids and I parading through the fields over, and under and through barb wire fences to play rugby and go to the Good Friday service. After the service I returned to my fasting and silence engrossed in a book about finding vocation. I read the book through sitting next to a fireplace soaking up its light and heat. In Sam Portaro's book "Crossing the Jordan" about vocation I was comforted as I read about Christ and his challenges and attempts to find his place and prepare for his ministry, requiring him to cross the Jordan to live with the gentiles and face many challenges and questions, and make mistakes to find what would be the most amazing vocation of living God's will towards his own death and resurection.
I read the short book cover to cover and in silence and in my hunger I felt comforted and assured that while I don't know where I will be in three and a half months, it will come and with my heart in the right place I will go where I am called.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
These images had me wishing y'all could have been here to experience this amazing hike. We hiked 9kilometers barefoot hiking along the beach. After our hike we stayed at an incredible hut overlooking the dolphins playing in the waves. The next day we hiked over 8 kilometers over sand dunes. What an incredible experience. Photos are taken courtesy of Sarah Jackson.