Dear Family of St John’s

When my eldest son was 3, about to turn 4, he went to a play school for the first time. I can still remember dropping him off on the first morning, trying to be brave for him, holding back my tears so that he wouldn’t cry.

He didn’t. He couldn’t wait to run in and play. I, on the other hand, was a blubbering mess the moment my husband and I got back into the car. I sobbed, to the sound of my husband laughing at me! He does that, he often finds my distress at certain situations amusing.

Anyway, my eldest loved his little play school. He enjoyed his friends, play time, the stories, and the songs they sang. But, as the weeks and months passed we started to notice a change in him. His accent was changing, he now sounded more like his teacher than his mother.

He had a lovely teacher, she was fabulous! But, her home language was Afrikaans and that came through when she spoke. And now, my eldest had picked up an Afrikaans accent – without being able to say a word of Afrikaans yet!

I just need to be very clear that I really have no problem with Afrikaans, or the language, or the accent, or any of that. I have Afrikaans roots, which I’m proud of. There’s a ‘van Zyl’ somewhere in a great-great-grandmother. It was just this change that developed in his accent that I found very disconcerting.

It was most evident when we recorded him singing a song one day. They were learning Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at play school, and he wanted to practice for us at home. And so, we recorded it. Well! We still have this recording, 23 years later, and play it periodically to embarrass our son. He sounds as if English is his second language, which is quite amusing as he can barely utter a sentence in Afrikaans, even to this day. It’s a miracle he can manage in Potch!

And so, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a favourite of mine, from the nursery rhyme genre. Which is possibly why it was the Number 1 performing item for the Ladies on the Roof last week Friday. It has everything you need to be a crowd pleaser… rhyme, actions, a catchy tune. And, when performed beneath twinkling stars? You couldn’t ask for more!

We performed it for most people who popped by to offer their support on Friday. We thought we were brilliant and had so much fun. However, I’m not sure that our performance sounded as good from the ground as it did from the roof!

At one point, just before 1am in the morning, I was awake and sitting on my own looking up at those stars. We had a beautiful evening, with clear skies and a view of all the twinkly stars. It was magnificent, and very peaceful. But, have you ever felt, in moments like that, that you are so small and insignificant? Perhaps you’ve had a deep sense of alone-ness in that moment.

Some people, when looking at the magnitude of the skies and the beauty around them, have a deeper sense of how awesome our God is, as creator and sustainer of our universe. That feeling of smallness helps them remember how big God is.

But, not everyone feels that way. Other people might feel even more alone, and lonely, isolated. Perhaps they even feel afraid, rejected, depressed.

I thought about that during our rooftop experience. And, I was reminded about what we’ve been learning in our Stones Bible Study teachings. God promises to be with us always. He shows His faithfulness to Jacob, to Moses, to Joshua, and countless other people through Scripture. And, in this week’s study, we see that Jesus emphasises that too in His words to His disciples, “… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

When we feel alone, or small, let us look to God who is so big, and so mighty. Let us look to see how He is being with us – through the people in our lives, the quiet thoughts in our minds, in the beat of our heart. Let us look for Him, and take comfort from His presence.

With love
Your friend and rector,