#5minutes4freedom: Shopping, democracy and hope in South Africa

I know they’re talking about me.

I don’t speak much Sepedi but I know from the caustic tones and the eye-rolling and the exclusive laughter cold as ice – the cashier and the plastic bag packer. Because I’m the woman buying organic fruit and parmesan cheese and they’re fighting taxi wars and bus strikes on minimum wage and I feel the hot flush of white guilt and just a bit of anger because I didn’t vote for apartheid so don’t take it out on me and I see again how so much and so little has changed in twenty years of beautiful, broken democracy in a beautiful, broken country.

My boys aren’t with me to smile and beguile and bridge the gap between the mom-hearts on either side of the cash register because mom-hearts all beat the same and mom-hearts all know what irresistible looks like.

I shift uncomfortable and stare down at my suburban groceries. I think about the turmoil that can erupt inside every heart and I think about Elijah. About how God was not in the wind and God was not in the earthquake and God was not in the fire. God was in the gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19)

And the whisper comes right there in the sensory assault of a supermarket – reminders flooding back –

A gentle answer turns away wrath. And the fruit of the Spirit is peace.

And old words sung –

Jesus stand among us at the meeting of our lives
Be our sweet agreement at the meeting of our eyes 

So I lift my eyes to find theirs – and I hope my eyes are saying to these sisters that the ground at the foot of the cross is level and we’re the generation with equal opportunity to step out of the old and into the new and more than being the generation of democracy we can be the generation for Jesus because he is the peace between us and he is the hope of all the world. The only hope for the third world country hungry for justice and freedom. The only hope for the first world country fat on apathy and entitlement.

And I see it in their eyes – a moment amidst bleeps and barcodes and the daily battle of life – the ceasefire and the peace-offer and the hope.

Wherever in the world you’re reading this, what do truth, courage and obedience look like in your community, or maybe just in your supermarket? I’d love to hear from you. Sign up in the sidebar to get these posts by email (scroll down if you’re on the mobile site), or follow #5minutes4freedom on facebook or twitter. If you’re new to GYI, check out thisAnd maybe this.


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