I woke up this morning to the sad but not entirely unexpected news that Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away. Steve Chalke wrote the following on twitter about the Archbishop (known in S.A. as “Arch”)
The great Desmond Tutu – spiritual leader, social activist, crusader for freedom, giant of the struggle against apartheid and homophobia, and symbol of courage, laughter and hope has died. May he rest in the peace of the God of love and justice, whom he served so magnificently. LinkSteve Chalke
In just those few words, he captures so much of who Archbishop Tutu was and what his legacy is for the world to follow.
When we were in South Africa in 2015, we saw these four statues in Cape Town remembering the four Nobel Peace Price laureates from South Africa, including the Archbishop. Later on our trip, we were in Soweto and stood on the same street where Archbishop Tutu and his wife Leah lived just a short way from where Nelson and Winnie Mandela had lived. I had written a letter to the Archbishop’s foundation before we traveled there to see if we could meet him but we heard back that he would be out of the country while we were there.
While I never had a chance to meet him in person, I have learned so much from his wisdom through his speeches and his writings. Three books in particular – The Book of Joy, No Future Without Forgiveness, and The Book of Forgiving – have all been transformative for me. Learning from his stories of life under apartheid, the work of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, and his life of joy through all of it.
He was truly a prophet and a saint and one whose witness will be sorely missed in our world.
The words of Psalm 15 seem particularly appropriate for remembering Archbishop Tutu. PBH put it this way in their song
who may worship in your sanctuaryPsalm 15 – Poor Bishop Hooper
who may find you on your holy hill
who may enter in your presence
who may see your glory and still stand still stand…
make us those whose lives are blameless
make us those with sincere hearts
make us those who keep their promise
even when it hurts and hurts…
The whole Psalm is about who can stand in the presence of the Lord and it settles on the blameless, the sincere hearts, and those who keep promises even when it hurts. That sounds like Archbishop Tutu who kept a life of joy, hope, laughter, courage, justice, and faith even when it hurt which is did probably more times than he could count. Yet, he kept the faith, finished the race, and now rests from his labors.
So I simply want to share some of the quotes from his books that have meant the most to me.
Rest in power and in peace Archbishop Tutu.
It is ultimately in our best interest that we become forgiving , repentant , reconciling , and reconciled people because without forgiveness , without reconciliation , we have no future.
After the grueling work of the commission I came away with a deep sense — indeed an exhilarating realization — that , although there is undoubtedly much evil about , we human beings have a wonderful capacity for good . We can be very good . That is what fills me with hope for even the most intractable situations
The Archbishop had used a beautiful phrase to describe this way of being in the world : “ becoming an oasis of peace , a pool of serenity that ripples out to all of those around us . ”
“ Discovering more joy does not , I’m sorry to say , ” the Archbishop added , as we began our descent , “ save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak . In fact , we may cry more easily , but we will laugh more easily , too . Perhaps we are just more alive . Yet as we discover more joy , we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters . We have hardship without becoming hard . We have heartbreak without being broken . ”
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act despite it.
His Fourfold Path of forgiving : Telling the Story, Naming the Hurt, Granting Forgiveness, and Renewing or Releasing the Relationship.