Voices. Speaking openly. Speaking honestly.
Free to be used, heard, and known.
In my study of the global work of Reconciliation over the course of the last year I have come to find that this is the most tangible, applicable definition of reconciliation I can easily communicate. Easy, but easier said that done seems like an understatement. What is Reconciliation? It seems like the answer is as multi-faceted as the ways in which it molds and moves and applies itself to instances of injustice, pain, trauma, healing, redemption, forgiveness, grace, and atonement. We see beautiful examples of this adaptability in Red Dust, through the implicit trauma and inevitable inconclusive completion of forgiveness. In a way, that is what reconciliation must be, a way to not set the past aside, but to freely acknowledge, and have the strength and trust to allow God’s love to be bigger than the depravity of our world. We are exceptionally good at hurting one another. We, as the people of God, have also historically been very good at doing the same to the unconditional love and grace offered to us. It is difficult, I by no means wish to diminish that, but even in the midst of perceiving with every fiber of our beings that we reside in a gray world of Ecclesiastes and not a black and white one of Proverbs we must seek resolution, peace, and justice. For it is fair to say that God is surely on the side of the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden. It is also fair to say that our example has already been set. We need not seek other sources than Jesus to understand what being a true reconciler looks like.
Again, easier said than done.
In the films we have examined, there are countless images of divide and reconciliation through embracing other, loving greater, and bridging the gaps. The development of relationship between Stephen and James in Cry, the Beloved Country and the visuals cast by it are beautiful examples of that. It is far too easy to succumb to fear instead of engaging in the hard work of understanding the pain to be found in those around us, much less in that of our ‘enemy’. The scene in which the two men meet at the top of the mountain to grieve the loss of the child that had killed the other to me exemplifies a mutual deep acknowledgement of pain void of fear. Though the two remain set apart, as James’ stance, elevated and seated upon the horse, may demonstrate, the simple words of, “Go well, umfundisi” with their respect and forgiveness, act as a verbal release.