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Nelson Mandela’s Window

Nelson Mandela’s Window

Imagine being in a small prison cell with only one window for 27 years. Then restricted to a single visitor each year and only permitted to write a one page letter every 6 months. Cold, dark and lonely with nothing to do except sit and think. This was the reality for Nelson Mandela. He was to be South Africa’s future President and one of the world’s most inspiring leaders, yet he had been formed in the pain of apartheid and, day after day, faced a seemingly endless lock down. 

Mandela used his time to envision a different and reborn South Africa. He embraced the tree of hope for a better world where people respected one another and strove for unity; a brotherhood of man. His famous cell window provided him with an eye to the world, even though having such a limited view, he could appreciate what he once took as trivial – the simplest amenities; a walk in the park, the breath of a cool breeze, a sun-kissed landscape; All this was an integral part of his pursuit of freedom for his people. For this great man, that small window was a place to enlarge his vision for the day he would emerge from captivity. He later penned in his memoirs his reflections on life and liberty, on love and a longing for fellowship. 

My window

I am writing to you from the United States of America, continuing to serve as a volunteer missionary with my family, now in my 43rd day of lockdown. To this I must say, it has been absolutely nothing in comparison to what Mr. Mandela must have endured! Yet, in this shadow of his reality, I have learned so much, had much to reflect upon and appreciated every minute of my captivity. I too have a window. A very small window in my bathroom where every day I look outside during the pandemic. The fear and panic at times has been palpable. It has been tragic to hear of the loss of life, economies in turmoil and nations literally shaking. However, I am not writing to you about the present…but the future; one where hope and lives are reborn. 

Mr Mandela envisioned his presidency from that window. His limited physical view of nothing notable or impressive faded away into his unparalleled vision of a future of possibilities. Many dreams are birthed in places of solitude and obscurity. When distraction is taken away we have time to focus on what is really important. Can you imagine what it felt like to simply shake someone’s hand, to see them smile or even hear them speak? 

I think of all the generations of people who have gone before us who endured a much harder ‘captivity’ than our present one and emerged to fight on and change the world. 

We must not lose hope!…ever! Mr Mandela enriched his diplomacy skills, wrote poetry and verse and developed a determination forged from adversity and separation. When he emerged, he came out a different man, ready to work towards his vision and not quit or ever give up but eventually lead a nation. 

My window has purpose now or meaning if you will. I see people separated, yet reaching out to one another. Stories of priorities changed, focus shifted and vision birthed. How do you see your captivity? I urge you to see it as an opportunity to birth vision. Don’t settle to emerge the same but rather changed…better. I have learned more from the past two months than I could have from one hundred self help seminars. And what about the world as a whole?  When we emerge, will we come together? For me, I am looking forward to hugging my brother, sister and my mum and dad back in Australia. Maybe even that obnoxious guy at the local supermarket who cuts me off in line! 

I hope it lasts. 

Unfortunately, history shows us that in reality, humanity has a way of moving on and forgetting too quickly the valuable lessons it just learnt. Perhaps our scars of memory are the lives we lost during this crisis or our loss of financial security for now. The best way is to look back whilst looking forward. You can do this by actively recalling sights like the cheers and applause for the front line workers received from people outside of Spanish hospitals. Then there were the people praying by the hundreds in the car parks of emergency centres across the US. What about the powerful sight of Italians singing and playing guitar to, ‘How Great is Our God’, in an apartment block during extreme lockdown. Or…could it be summarised in the memory of Andrea Bocelli singing, ‘Amazing Grace’ at Music for Hope outside the Duomo Di Milano at Easter? 

These examples are some of the very best of faith and human spirit together.

Let’s remember the fallen and embrace the living! Each of us has a purpose in the plan. 

As we slowly again see the light of viral emancipation, may it be through a new and better lens. Perhaps we will realise we are all one big family, created in His image where each life is precious and valuable. Treasure your freedom! Protect it and strive to live by the old military creed ‘No one left behind’. 

Our collective captivity has a window, one offering opportunity and promise. We may not emerge to lead a nation as Mr Mandela did but we can all help change the world. 

Copyright (C) 2020 David J. Hannaford – Proclaim Freedom Brisbane (AU). All rights reserved.

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