As I sat on the stoep catching up on the news of Cyclone Eloise to the south of us, my thoughts cloaked with birdsong, the familiar sound of Sunday worship gently floated across the river.
There is something wonderful about African voices, raised in unselfconscious praise to God, their harmonies distinctive, the timbre sincere. It is a sound that has gilded my Sundays for four decades and it brings comfort with its familiarity, its certainty of the faith it proclaims.
I love this continent, its complexities and its wonders, the contrasts of rugged stoicism and gentle pathos that seem so contradictory and yet are so right. Vicious thorns guard delicate blooms, harsh landscapes are home to colourful gems. It is here I see my God most clearly, His wonder throughout the universe displayed. No detail was too small for Him to overlook in the act of Creation, ecology is so finely balanced and so genius that no freak accident or cosmic blimp can account for it. It just can’t!.
I have been with my son in Maun, Botswana for the past month. A mouth-watering month for one who loves the outdoors. Each daybreak ushers new gems, from African Jacana trotting over lily pads, Black Crakes darting from one morsel to the next, to birdsong that deafens, clouds decorating the vast sky, to people who care for this land and all it has and are interesting with all they have done and experienced.
Yesterday we went west south west to Toteng, and then to Talipan, a stretch of water on the far edge of the Okavango Delta near to Lake Ngami. The drive was littered with red pod Terminalia and Camel thorn Acacias, interspersed with Apple Leaf, and cows and goats and donkeys and people doing what people do on a Saturday afternoon. The bush was lush and thick. We left the tar road and the vegetation changed subtly. A few Shepherd trees, scrubby shrubs replaced trees. Dwayne explained this was the Kalahari, the undulations in the road a continuation of the dunes of Namibia.
We were relieved to see the sign, we had thought there would not be one – Africa is not renowned for its signage – and began to look for the pan. We had hoped to find an incline that would give us a view over it, but not to be. We backtracked to the faint markings of a road we had passed, and drove into a vista that was so immense I shrank immediately, humbled by the enormity of my surrounds.
Nestled among bright green reeds, stretches of water reflected the cobalt blue sky. Red billed Teal and Egyptian Gooses sailed lethargically along waterways, egrets and sandpipers, Stints and stilts waded around purposelessly, watched by indolent cows. A donkey mare, hobbled, watched over her foal. In the distance a flock of Marabou Storks. Over all an enormous sky protecting the serenity of God’s creation.
It was hot. We looked for a tree. There was one on the other side, far from the water but we didn’t mind. The relief of a cup of tea and we were on our way again. The Maribou storks spread out along the water line looked like professors at some austere gathering, then a new find, a double banded courser hoped we wouldn’t see him as he hovered close to our wheel, an indeterminate LBJ taunted from the top of a thorn bush.
It sounds cliched to say there is no place as special as this, but this is a unique part of our world, this little piece of Africa. The Okavanga Delta broods to the west, desert to the south, the thickets of Moremi, Chobe, Savuti to the north, a few of the mystical names that evoke pictures of elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, crocodiles and hippos, to name but a few, of breathless safaris and nights under stars as bright as lanterns, oh, I could go on and on!
In the greatness of all this, I see the hand of my Maker, my God, the great I AM and am stupefied with awe and lost in wonder as I listen to the heartbeat of Africa worshiping the King this Sunday in Maun.