Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Final Days of Holy Week

Saturday 19th April – Holy Saturday

A few things are important for me here in Zambia. At the moment I am missing my endless cups of tea. Since arriving I have only had tea in the morning. I usually manage at least a couple of cups at breakfast from a single tea bag. On Wednesday evening after my meal I was going to ask for a Mosi but after further consideration I asked if it would be too much trouble for Citride to make me a pot of tea! Sometimes there is nothing more wonderful than a pot of tea – and this was one of those occasions!! The local Zambians were a little amused and commented on the Englishman's love of tea. One of them commented on the Indian's similar passion. He had studied in Mumbai and also travelled quite extensively throughout Europe!

I made a brief visit to Kaliyangile on Thursday morning before setting of to Lusaka. Unusually there were a couple of minibuses on the main road and I thought they might move earlier than the taxis – but it appeared they were heading in a different direction. From Chisamba there appears to be only one tarred road, which meets the Great North Road after about 23 km. I think the others all become dirt roads at the edge of the small town. I assume the minibuses were using one of these.

I was directed to an empty taxi and prepared for a long wait. However a lady with a child appeared and we moved off, picking up others just up the road. I will never understand the mechanisms here in Zambia. I am constantly being surprised, but at least there is never an opportunity for boredom!!

I arrived in Lusaka soon after 12 hrs. Jennipher's appointment was scheduled for 10.30 so I gave her a ring to arrange to meet. She was waiting in a queue to have her fingerprints taken and the equipment had broken down. I am not happy with the recent moves to collect and store fingerprints. I always associate this activity with criminal behaviour. I am sure that in the past, innocent parties who gave fingerprints would have the data destroyed one it was no longer required for the case. It seems that more and more our personal information is being captured so that everyy aspect of our lives can be be tracked.

I eventually met with Jennipher at about 15 hrs She had with her a relative who, with his wife, had brought a sick baby to UTH – the large government hospital in Lusaka. Unfortunately the baby died and the parents were struggling to return with the baby for burial. Jennipher was going to stay in Lusaka overnight and come back with them on Friday.

Jennipher escorted me to a bus which was about to leave. At 16 hrs we set off!! Slowly!! There seemed to be something on the driver's mind and we stopped several times. I am sure that the conductor was left on more than one occasion and caught up with us somehow, fiurther down the road. We made very slow progress and when eventually we reached Kafue the driver found his scerwdriver and ran off. After about 30 mins we had a new light bulb installed and were therefore less likely to pick up fines at the many police checkpoints.

We arrived in Monze at about 20.20 – about 9 hrs after I left Chisamba.

The mass for Holy Thursday was well underaway and the house was completely locked up. Eventually Fr. Clement arrived from another service and let me in. The service had only reached the offertory so I decided to sneak into the back of the church and stay for the remainder of the mass.

We had entered the most sacred days of the church's year. Over the next three days we would recall the last days of Jesus on earth. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus celebrated the passover with his disciples and institued the main Christian celebration – the Eucharist. I was glad to be present, if only for the final part.

Good Friday is a good day to reflect. I went to Our Lady of the Wayside church in the morning. The young people acted the betrayal and trial of Jesus outside the front of the church and then we all followed them as Jesus carried his cross we walked around the outside perimeter of the church grounds along the minor roads stopping on the way to recall incidents on the route when Jesus carried his cross to Calvary. (Our church has formalised thes events as “The Stations of the Cross”) One thing they do well here is to organise PA systems. All parishes seem to have no difficulty setting up microphones, amplifiers and speakers to run from car batteries while parading through the streets. Similarly PA systems for outside events are no problem. I remember that in Burma it was the same.

The procession returned to the church grounds for the final stages of the story where Jesus was crucified. Throughout the young people told the story in actions and words in a very dignified way. They had obviously spent a lot of time preparing for the day and it made for a very moving and thought provoking service.

I threw a few books in my cases before I left home in England. One is a book given to me written by Joan Bakewell called “Belief” which is a selection of interviews she did for the radio in the UK. She clearly has her own position and many of her guests are people who have discarded their Christian upbringing. It makes interesting reading but I feel a sadness because it seems that most of her guests have never met God in an intimate way through the person of Jesus. Unfortunately our Christian churches are often guilty of concentrating on ritual and rules rather than experiencing and living the Gospel. The Catholic church – of which I am a part – has been more guilty than most of this approach.

Nevertheless I find the interviews interesting. Some are given by people that have developed a deep and mature spirituality and we can always learn from those who ponder the mysterys of the universe and the possibilities of something beyond.

I also have a book which records a lecture given by Jean Vanier an inspirational man who has devoted much of his life to living with people who have mental disabilities and started the L'Arche communities. He is a man I would love to meet. He believes that the poor and neglected are the best to teach us about God. My experience confirms that.

Another book I looked at during my reflection yeasterday is a book called “Wayfaring” by Margaret Silf. It is based on the spirituality of Saint Ignatius – Pope Francis, as a Jesuit, will have followed this spirtual journey. I would like to share a few words from the introduction which make a lot of sense to me.:

The future is not some place we are going to but one we are creating
The paths to it are not found but made
and the making of those pathways
changes both the maker and the destination.

I think that I would add “and also those we meet upon the way”.

Certainly something worth reflecting upon.

In the afternoon I attended the Good Friday service again at Our Lady of the Wayside. On the way I met Obert's mother she was heading to the hospital but this time it is new life she is preparing for. Her daughter is about to give birth. Let us pray that all goes well for mother and child. It is a privilege to worship with the congregation at Our Lady of the Wayside church and feel a part of their community.

Today is one of anticipation. I like to take life easy, to reflect further and to spend time with my God of nature, I will probably go for a short walk this afternoon and maybe find a place to sit quietly. Zambia is very beautiful at the moment. Some new grass shoots srung up after the recent rain and most of the countryside is green. There is a wonderful array of wild flowers being enjoyed by the beautiful butterflies and other insects.

With love and prayers


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