Poem for Archbishop-emeritus Tutu – by Betty Govinden

 

FOR
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND MPILO TUTU

ON
THE OCCASION OF YOUR 80TH BIRTHDAY

 

7TH OCTOBER 2011

SOUTH AFRICA

 

 

From the shadows of  Klerksdorp

You stride out,

Captive of your calling

Unfolding in sacrifice,

And the sacrament of service.

  

Remembering a time when

Fishing with your father

You dreamt of mothers’

Hands, weathered and calloused,

Being softened and caressed in solace.

  

Your ear is attuned to the laments of

Suffering people wounding your frail flesh,

Kindling your anger and indignation;

Tongues of fire, your mitre  aflame,

The incense of your cries rising to the heavens:

  

“I am because we are!”

You shout across forest and mountain.

“Eternity is in the now; redeem the time!”

The largesse of your God

Bursting through the walls dividing us.

  

You go on a rampage for justice,

Stand in the breech,

Staring into machetes, sticks and petrol bombs,

Prostrate at the altar of forgiveness

For both oppressor and oppressed.

 

When you finally stop weeping

With the bereft,

Your laughter somehow manages

To fill the wilderness;

Blossoms sprout in the desert.

Your prayers break from the lofty apses

Lifting the yoke of slavery.

 

 Soldier for peace, you rail ever against

The scourge of  prejudice, poverty,

HIV/AIDS,

Hunger, wars,

The butchering  of the white rhino…

  

From the Solomon Islands to Darfur

From  Guantanomo to Gaza,

Your umbilical cord is buried again and again

Under the baobab, banyan and olive tree.

 

You are hewn from the Rock,

From which stream

Life-giving waters,

From Abraham to Augustine,

Desert Fathers to the Dalai Lama,

Mother Theresa to Wangari Maathai.

 

Today, your basket is filled

With liturgies and offerings,

Sunbeams, songs, plaintive roses

And fruits of love.

And children’s prayers.

*   *
*   *  *

 

 

 

 

Composed [with love and
respect]

 

by

 

Dr Betty Govinden

herbyg@telkomsa.net

031-201 3995

 

 

 

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