Up early on Easter morning and to Mass — sat in the warm stillness of the little facebrick church on the hillside, the candles burning, lingering smell of incense. To my left the portrait of St Martin de Porres, the little white plaster statue of Our Lady. Others kneeling in pews, weary from the long walk. The priest late and rushed, needing to say Mass several times today and travel long distances.
The Easter Vigil message of Pope Francis I had read earlier echoing and glowing within, filling me with hope. Looking up from prayer at the red beads of incense on the paschal candle, the glowing red glass light of the tabernacle. Leaky roof, scuffed floor tiles, shabby altar cloth: but warmth and sanctuary here.
Fine a cappella singing in isiXhosa and Sotho. Afterwards the small children ran to get their chocolate and marshmallow Easter eggs in the basket Fr P held out at the door. Sticky fingers, choc-smeared grinning little faces. Greetings and good wishes exchanged in a wind rattling with eucalyptus leaves, the rustling pine trees planted in a row to shelter the church from the wind that rushes up from the valley in a cloud of dust.
So much that speaks of poverty, carelessness, indifference. Waste paper and discarded plastic bags blown up against wire fences, the potholes in the tarmac, the small houses with peeling paint and roofing of patched corrugated iron. How might hope be nurtured here in the absence of beauty or awe?