Welcome to a serving of padkos during this time of the global corona virus crisis. Afrikaans dictionaries translate padkos as ‘provisions’ in English. It is made up of two separate Afrikaans words: pad, meaning road; and kos, meaning food. So it describes food for the journey. We are aware that to a small degree, padkos has developed a sense of community and participation over the years, and we have missed our connection with you. We hope everyone’s okay out there, taking care of yourselves and of each other. Please let us know how you’re doing, and whether you’d like more regular communication with and from us.
In our South African context, we are sharing this serving of padkos at a point when it is more than likely that the worst of the corona virus impacts are still to come. It is a time that requires clarity of thought and purpose of us all, but also requires of us that we are simply and wholly present in this moment, this moment of unbearable crisis, of suffering, of death, and to own something of the enormity and Truth of it. So ‘food-for-the-journey’ has never been more vital. For many of us perhaps, it has been a time to affirm and remember that the sustenance we draw on is so much more and so much deeper than penetrating analyses, or powerful theorisations or busy activism, important as all of these undoubtedly are. We draw on deeper wells of spirituality, transcendence and trans-descendence1; of hope and anticipation; of conviviality and community; and maybe above all else, of kindness and compassion; and of caring and gentle courage. Alongside our awareness of the suffering then, we are also aware of the astonishing gestures and practices, all over the world, that make these values real and alive here and now – and that ground our hope for better things to come.
There has been a lot of written stuff emerging from the corona period. Much of it excellent but as much and more has been noise and distraction. So we have tried to avoid adding to overall levels of noise through padkos. One written piece that spoke clearly through the noise was an interview with Pope Francis from earlier in April, and we are sharing it with you here in the hope it will provide food for our journey together. There is much to draw on in the Pope’s thoughts here.
The interviewer, Austen Ivereigh is a Fellow in Contemporary Church History at the Jesuit-run Campion Hall at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is Wounded Shepherd: Francis and his struggle to convert the Catholic Church (Henry Holt).
We have also included for you, a new poem from the extraordinary Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o called ‘Dawn of Darkness’ – shorter, but no less rewarding and beautiful.
NOTICE: We also want to take this opportunity to clarify that, because of the Covid-19 virus situation, we will obviously not be doing any padkos-related gatherings till further notice. We miss not seeing you and learning from you but, in the meantime friends, be safe, be smart, & be kind.
1 as the great liberation theologian Leonardo Boff suggests in his work on St Francis this is “an experience we all fear and reject because we fear facing emptiness, solitude, suffering and death… Through trans-descendence, the individual is open to what is below” (Leonardo Boff, 1982. Saint Francis: A Model for Human Liberation. SCM Press, London, 24.)
A Time of Great Uncertainty – interview with Pope Francis