There will be people

Nearly a year ago when I was planning for this trip I was gathering ideas and advice, and getting everything from the mundane to the philosophical. Packing advice was popular, “travel light” was the most common refrain … a friend of mine who spoke with his typical subtle wisdom, “Wherever you go … there will be people.” The practical advice of don’t worry, everywhere you go there will be people who need to do the same things you need to, wash clothes, brush teeth, calm headaches – you don’t need to pack for a year, there will be people … you will find what you need…

This has been absolutely true.

This year the phrase has become somewhat of its own refrain for me, “Everywhere you go, there will be people…” struggling and thriving, living and dying, helping and denying, hating and reconciling.

There will be people who come to a lovely lookout point to see the beautiful waterfall.

There will be people who come to the same water as the only way to wash their clothes.

There will be people who have fun, love life, and overcome obstacles.

There will be people who try to get in the way, to trip us up and limit our livelihood and our lives. (The green house is the drug house; the fence is the end of the school yard.)

All that we do and do not do is done and not done by people. Governments, businesses, systems, corporations, grass roots movements, communities, marches, reunions, boycotts … they are done, made and managed by people. We might blend in with them but at their core, they are people.

Sometimes when we look around we see many difficult situations and challenging realities. We can feel that they are just too difficult, too complicated, or too overwhelming to do anything about them… after all, its just the way it is… But what about the reality that there are people right there in the middle of difficult, complicated and overwhelming?

Difficult, complicated and overwhelming are there because of people…

People, people, people…

There is no getting around us, we can only go through us …

Where ever we go, there will be people.

I like the “s”

I’ve been in a place called Lutheran Theological Institute (LTI) in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. It’s about 60 kilometers North of Durban. It is pretty much on the opposite side of the country from Cape Town. It’s a different state with a different dominant culture and language, Zulu.  But here on campus the students come from all over Africa. My roommate is from Zimbabwe, and other friends are from Botswana, Rwanda, Zambia and, of course, South Africa. There is also a large Indian population.

It’s a stew of nationalities, ethnicities and ideologies.

LTI is connected with and right across the street from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). LTI is a Lutheran college and UKZN is a secular university with a Department of Theology. LTI is steeped in traditional liturgy and church structures. UKZN’s Department of Theology is a school of liberation with a history of fighting apartheid through liberation theology and a progressive stance.

I have been attending a few classes and lectures mostly at UKZN. One of the classes I really enjoy is an African Worldviews theology course. The class proves over and over again that the most significant letter in African Worldviews, is the letter “s.” Just like the class, this place is varied, colorful and challenging. It has plenty of mind blowing contradictions and discrepancies. It has thoughtful conversations and mutual interest. I like the “s.”

I might be in class at UKZN but I live, eat and attend daily chapel at LTI. Some pictures of LTI…