Op 26 Maart 2015 het Dr Tanya van Wyk die oordenking van die Fakulteit Teologie se jaarlikse ‘lekgotla’ waargeneem. Sy het ons soos volg toegespreek:
Scripture reading: Amos 5:14-15
Once again we are on our way to Palm Sunday – a pilgrimage we undertake each year in faith, in the same way as we undertake the pilgrimage of our Faculty every year this time – also in faith. It seems we are forever on a pilgrimage and that new challenges keep on arising. It is what it is. One of the core tenets of our way of believing is that one can never say one has ‘arrived’. But we are on our way to somewhere, we know not yet where. There are disappointments and disillusionments behind us. But we have a vision for the way we want to work and the role we want to play in the community. We have a vision. We have a dream.
Dreams, one might say, are dangerous. Measured against reality, it might be better to rather be realistic in terms of the times and the challenges we face and give up a vision and a dream as the things of children being naïve in the ways of the academy and the institute. There are such things as unrealistic visions and dreams, and there are also such things as cruel expectations. Hans Küng once proposed that one should be an idealist without illusions.
At the end of the summary of his autobiography titled, ‘What I believe’, he writes about his last vision and hope for the future. He refers to a German proverb: ‘Dreams are like bubbles’. The old proverb means that what I have dreamt need not necessarily come true.
There are dreams that are better not fulfilled.
There are dreams that unfortunately are not fulfilled.
There are dreams that are fulfilled later.
Since the moment I had read this about two years ago, I have thought it to be rather profound. And now I wonder, which of these are the dreams that we have for ourselves and our faculty? For the country? For the church?
On 28 August 1963 the black American civil rights champion and Baptist minister Martin Luther King gave his prophetic speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC: ‘I have a dream’, he said. This dream of his was for justice, reconciling diversity, inclusivity – many of the things we as a Faculty with our theme of ‘Life in its fullness’ currently also proclaim as our dream.
But he also said:
‘We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
And even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream’.
On 4 April 1968 he was murdered. 45 years after that, an aspect of that dream of his was realised – not the dream in its entirety, not at all – but something. So, in terms of the proverb, his dream was not a bubble. Why? Because ‘if one person dreams alone, it remains a dream. But if many dream together, it can become a reality’.
Hans Küng says that his dream of a humane world, a reconciled Christianity, a peace between religions and an authentic community of nations, is dreamed by many. He writes that just as Martin Luther King, he will not live to see the fulfilment of his dream – but he will also not take it to the grave. He will hand it on to generations hence, who also long for justice and peace. This is what he believes.
This is what I believe too. We keep taking to the road of pilgrimage and we too hope for justice, reconciling diversity and inclusivity – that is our vision and dream in terms of our hope for humanity (but for the Faculty as well). For this to have a chance of succeeding we must embark on the road together and dream it together.
Whoever’s vision it is, a vision for the future about reconciling diversity, inclusivity and justice cannot be about saying who is to blame for the challenges, or making people afraid of the challenges, or making the challenges someone else’s responsibility or making people work until they don’t have the energy or the enthusiasm left to work with and deal with those challenges.
From his jail cell Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: ‘We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses or cynics or clever tacticians, but plain honest straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?’
He might as well have been writing this about all of us. A vision and a dream for ‘life in its fullness’ requires joint responsibility and constant vigilance. That is the price of freedom. And although I (all of us) ‘face the difficulties of today and tomorrow’, we still have a dream. Dorothee Sölle’s ‘Political Evensong’ which she initiated during 1968 to inform, pray, plan against different injustices, asks that ‘God keeps on dreaming us’:
Dream me God
It’s not you who should solve my problems, God,
But I yours, God of the asylum-seekers
It’s not you who should feed the hungry, but I who should protect your children
From the terror of the banks and the armies.
It’s not you who should make room for the refugees,
But I who should receive you,
Hardly hidden God of the desolate.
You dreamt me, God.
Practicing, walking upright
And learning to kneel down
More beautiful than I am now
Happier than I dare to be
Freer than our country allows
Don’t stop dreaming me, God.
I don’t want to stop remembering
That I am your tree
Planted by the streams
Of living water.
We pray with the psalmist of Psalm 143:
Hear my prayer, o Lord,
Show me the way I should go
I am quite tired and my spirit fails.
Please do not look away from me,
So that I become like those who go down to the world of the dead.
Let me experience your love each morning, remind me of it;
For I put my trust in you.
Teach me the way I should go,
For I lift my soul up to you, my hope lies in you.
I have fled to you for refuge
Teach me to do your will
Let your good Spirit lead me on a level path
In your goodness, show me how to live and preserve life
For you are my God!
(Lekgotla Morning Devotion 26 March 2015)