Monday, 9 November 2015

Project Amazing Grace- Hogsback

Along with Christians from all over the world we united to sing Amazing Grace On Sunday the 8th of November at 17h00.For more information see

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares...
I have already come.
Tis Grace has brought me safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.
When we've been there ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

New beginnings

Today was a day of new beginnings at St Patricks. Not only did Reverend Liz  Thomas gave her first service at the Chapel, we also welcomed little Carter to our St Patrick's Community!

Tea was, as always, a joyous occasion with even a butterfly joining in!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Cato retreat: A gentle journey into the heart of Jesus

Walking with Jesus. That is what we did over a 2 day period at the most amazing Cato lodge perched high up on the Amatola mountains overlooking a few villages and  Cato dam, close to Keiskammahoek. This heavenly abode formed the perfect backdrop to an inspiring retreat into gentleness, quietness and recharging of the soul.

We were a small group who set out in convoy from Hogsback along the back roads to Keiskammahoek. This in itself was a treat for me, passing through forests with little waterfalls and spectacular views over the valleys below.  My heart was full of expectancy to get to know my fellow villagers a bit better, to slow down after a frenetic year, to reconnect with God and to contemplate the personal crossroads that I am facing.

On arrival at our destination, we were greeted by little ones, both four legged and two legged, inviting us to wander back in time when we also had that childlike joyful wonder, devoid of cynicism, criticism and  world weariness.  This formed the pre-amble to thinking back to our eight-year old selves and asking the question of what this innocent version of ourselves would be telling us now. 
The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. Wonder is the opening to awe, and awe is the beginning of wisdom.  (Abraham Heshel)

And this is where we stopped to ponder that no matter how much we think we know, we never graduate from the school of spirituality and that we need to keep the element of childlike wonder and dependence on God. It was comforting to become quiet in order to explore the humanity  of Jesus and how He had to endure the pain of being human. This in turn means that he can identify with our pain and broken humanity. Just like us, He also did not know all the answers and was deeply dependent on God. We contemplated the brokenness of humanity by quietly exploring the questions....

  • Why are we the way we are?
  • Why do we hurt others and why do they hurt us?

Our struggles are vital if we are to love people unconditionally and become who we are meant to be. After contemplating Luke 5: 1-11 we realised that change is important to grow and reach our destiny and that we should not fear it.
All we need to do is to cleanse the doors of perception and we shall see things as they are: infinite (William Blake)
Before we can face change we need to come face to face with God, just like Jesus had to endure temptations and submit Himself to the will of his father. Difficult questions like "Am I a fraud?" and "Can I hear God?", teach us dependence on God. When we pray from a place of weakness, God hears us and always responds in kindness and mercy.

So, I cannot begin to express my gratitude to having had such a gentle experience in walking with Jesus alongside my fellow villagers. Vic Graham did not lead the retreat, he lived it with us, guiding us gently.  I loved the informal laidbackness of the few days we shared together with delightful food and company.

I also have to mention the walks and the quiet times which I have decided to embrace more regularly and make part of my time with God. Our one leisurely stroll into the forest ended up to be an extended hike and bush-scramble as we lost our way. The guys assured me that we were not lost despite the rest of the group sending a search party to look for us. But it ended up being a metaphor for my life space at this moment in time. I thought I was on an established mountain pathway with some beautiful streams, trees an shrubs, until a boomslang slithered past my feet and up the tree which made me stop and wait for my companions. We soon encountered a split in the pathway and somehow we made the wrong choices which lead us to scramble through thick vegetation in search for a way out of the forest. At no time did I feel scared. I felt God all around us. I saw Him in the beautiful old trees that have stood the test of time. I knew that my companions were there for with me and that we will eventually get through the thick of things. Which we did. And we had hope. And yes, they did leave lunch for us!

Thank you Norma for organising the retreat, Vic for leading it, my fellow villagers for letting me getting to know you better and God for blessing our time together. I am already booking my place for next year!

Here is the quotes from all our sessions:

And some photos: