Perhaps I should have felt disappointed. Our tea with Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu was canceled. I had looked forward to this visit. We were to meet him and to share tea with him at his home on Bishop’s Court. However, his schedule became very hectic during the days when we were in Cape Town. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Archbishop had to change his hectic schedule. I complain about how full my calendar gets – imagine what his looks like! At any rate, the tea with our group from Cleveland was dropped from Archbishop Tutu’s schedule because he had to go to Johannesburg during that time.
On Thursday, November 2, we rose early. We arrived at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town for the 8:00 am All Soul’s Day mass. Archbishop Tutu was the celebrant. Brightness and life beamed from him as he prayed his way through the mass. When the time came to pass the peace, he came among us and wished the peace of Christ upon us. The service continued. The moment of the Eucharist arrived. We made our way forward. From the hands of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, we received the host. From his eyes, loved shone on each person. From his face, welcome emanated, surrounding us each and all and embracing the world.
As the service ended, Archbishop Tutu asked that we be introduced to the congregation of about thirty or so. He greeted us warmly. We presented him with a “Rainbow Children” stole. In joy he put it on. We could sense his excitement although he did manage to refrain from dancing! It took an effort. Then he asked if we were really from the United States – because no one was ready to take pictures. The cameras came out and, with gracious exuberance, Archbishop Tutu posed with the group and with each of us individually. Then he was gone.
Perhaps I should feel disappointed. But I do not. If you had a choice between sharing with Archbishop Desmond Tutu either a spot of tea or the cup of Christ – how would you choose?
For the life and faith and love of witness of Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, thanks be to God.
Cape Town, South Africa
2 November 1995
North East, Maryland
26 December 2021