Living in South Africa last year, we experienced the seasons in reverse. In late April friends from the States began posting photos and comments about the beauty of spring on Facebook, while we started wearing more layers to fend off the chill.
In the southern hemisphere, early May has a nip in the air as people in the southernmost climes prepare for winter. Although winters in South Africa are milder than many places in the States, temperature can definitely get cold, and the length of daylight diminishes as the Earth moves toward the winter solstice in June.
Most buildings in South Africa, or at least in Grahamstown where we were living, don’t have heat. Visitors quickly learn that it’s often warmer outside than inside. Windows are opened on sunny days to let in the warmth, not to lower the already cool temperatures.
During this time, my husband Tom and I began writing meditations for Forward Day by Day, which writers prepare a year in advance to meet publication schedules. So as we began writing during the forty days of Easter, we weren’t watching the Earth come to life, but instead living into the shorter days of fall.
Writing thirty-one brief meditations shouldn’t be hard for a practicing journalist and long-time Christian educator. But after a quick perusal of the lectionary for that time period, we felt a little bewildered and gained a new appreciation for clergy who preach week in and week out.
We wanted to share our insights from a South African context that is both complex and complicated. Sometimes we had to reach to find enough words to fill the space, while other times we had to keep a close eye on the word count, cutting our prose to meet the space requirements.
As is often the case in life, we probably benefited more from writing our thirty-one meditations than others will in reading them. During our writing month, Tom and I found ourselves talking about theology and searching for images that best explained an idea or concept.
We invite you to read our musings on the Forward Day by Day website, many of which reflect our experience in South Africa and our time at the College of the Transfiguration. We will be inviting our friends and colleagues in South Africa to also join us as we all continue our journey into Easter.