Moments of Recognition
Last Sunday afternoon my wife and I went for lunch at the Lord Nelson Hotel. We were at a loose end not having to catch up with family.
We soon settled down to a glass of wine and made our order. Then a party of people arrived, at least about 8 people, and sat not far from us. They were a group of coloured people, of all the Cape colours, and they were in their seventies, I thought. The men wore suites. They ordered soft drinks and placed their order.
I couldn’t help feeling that that I knew these people. There was a wonderful energy about them. They smiled when I looked at them. There was an aura, a radiant glow about each of them. Here was a table of wonderful Buddha humanity. Each time the men facing men caught my eye, it was as if they were ready to engage me.
So I said to them, “I have a feeling that I know you from somewhere? Where are you from?”
They had gathered to celebrate the 80 th birthday of the woman at the head of the table. She had travelled down from Johannesburg for the occasion.
One of the men sitting with his back towards me said: “We chose this place almost in defiance really.”
They had grown up in Simon’s Town and had experienced forced removals in the 1960’s. In their youth they were never allowed to enjoy themselves at the Lord Nelson Hotel because of the colour of their skin. Today in good humour, they had come to claim that space.
They were interested to hear that I was the rector of St Francis Simon’s Town and we were able to exchange stories of people they once knew.
Recently though I had some other experiences of recognition. During the Song’s of Praise event at St Francis a few weeks ago, a parishioner introduced me to her sister during the interval. I turned to look at her, and in the turning she said her name, “Mary”.
“Mary,” I said, “I know you?”
“No” she said, “you can’t”.
“Woodstock I said in the 1960s, and the Methodist youth club”.
I had looked into her face, and saw the youthful Mary in a street in Woodstock. She was very impressed.
But something more happened. Immediately, as I turned from her, I looked into another face that I knew so well, that of Peter Storey, a prominent bishop in the Methodist church. We had never met, but knew of each other. He too went back to my youth. As part of a group of Methodist and Anglican friends, we used to visit the Metropolitan Church in Green Market Square where Peter was one of the young Methodist ministers. He was often one of the speakers at the Methodist Camp on Red Hill Simon’s Town.
I have a few other stories like that of remarkable moments of recognition. If you would like to please share yours with me.