I visited Cape Town again this year. It was the first time I had ever spent a day there alone and there were memories and challenges that I knew I would have to face. But God knew that too. And so He gave me a garden, filled with beauty, and a view of the mountain that was breath-taking in its grandeur. I could do nothing but praise Him for the magnificence of His creation and, in the praise and the beauty, there came healing.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge… 2 Samuel 2-3
We walk through the modern glass doors into a place of efficient activity. Greeted we are welcomed and directed through the building. The busy rooms succeed one another as we walk past, but nothing quite prepares me for what lies ahead. Walking through the final door, I stop, stunned by the magnificent beauty of the place.
Green, rolling lawns, interspersed with steps of natural stone fall away before me to an inviting area of tall plants and small paths. I have always loved small paths. They hold a fascination for me, for there could be anything around the next corner …
But now is not the time to explore. Now is the time to feast my eyes on the beauty that surrounds me. An archway of vines stretches away across the garden, flowers splash the world with colour and a variety of large spreading trees offer their shade. There are people, yes, lots of them sitting at tables under the trees, but they are leisurely on this hot, summer’s afternoon, just enjoying being where they are with their friends and family.
And my eyes follow the vista to the trees in the valley, delighting in their presence and the pleasing effect they make as a backdrop to this pleasant scene. But as I look I realise that they do not complete the view. For there, towering above them is the Mountain. The solid symbol of the city where we are staying, it soars up into the clear blue sky. The afternoon sun shines on it and lights up every crag, every rock. The sheer size of it is breath-taking as we stand beneath it; near enough to be on its lower slopes, far enough away to appreciate its grandeur.
And I know, at last, that I am here; back in a city that I love and have longed to revisit. The bubble of unreality bursts and I feel again. The emotions are strong, but I know that I need to allow myself to feel them – that it is part of the healing.
I marvel at the fact that a piece of rock can pierce the hardness of my heart. The rest of the day is a see-saw between contentment and sadness but I try, with almost success, to let the feelings come. That night, before bed, I go out again into the garden. There is the mountain – floodlit and beautiful in its splendour. Above there are fluffy clouds, tinged apricot in the floodlights, and I breath in the air, content now. I have faced many of the feelings I feared and I have conquered them. And as I turn to go in to sleep I find myself singing ‘You are my rock and my Fortress (I will not be afraid’).