Tag Archive: barefoot

It’s cold, very cold. This might be stating the obvious but I think that somehow we miss how cold it really is. As the cold front settles in and the effect of winter is clearly visible on frosted window panes and heater sales, we seem to be absorbed in how to stay warm. The result, we forget how cold it really is.

But maybe it is worthwhile to open ourselves to the reality of how cold it really is. This morning, stepping out of the house unshod was a real challenge but at the same time a real reminder that there was a bunch of people sleeping outside last night. Walking to the car barefoot in sub-zero temperatures reminded once again how privilege I am; a warm bowl of soup, followed by a warm shower and a warm and comfortable bed to spend the night.

At the same time the frost was biting at my toes I wondered how many people spared a thought for those who are not so privilege, for those to whom going barefoot is not a choice but the only reality. How many of those who laid siege to shops in search of heaters decided to invite a little discomfort into their own lives in order to gift someone else a little more comfort in theirs?

Traveling barefoot in the freezing cold I am constantly reminded, and made acutely aware, of how selfish (wo)mankind can be. Even as we talk about compassion and espouse self-sacrifice, we seldom dare to venture out of our comfort zones in order to make a real different of those who truly suffers. Indeed we are willing to help others, as long as they make some effort to help themselves and also only as long as it doesn’t really affect our own comfort.

Maybe the time has come that we choose to leave our shoes at home or to leave the heater switched off for one night (at least Eskom will be happy) or use one less blanket for a night. It might just be that we wake up the next morning with a little more gratitude which might just lead to each one of us doing one little thing that will make a big difference in the life of someone not so fortunate. And if we don’t, I venture to say that deep down there will always be that niggling feeling, that idea that we are not the great people we think we are, that we are indeed self-centred fools who are bend on our own destruction; at least we will be destroyed whilst being warm and comfortable.


The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.


It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others – even our enemies – is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.


We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings, even those regarded as enemies.


We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

I found this version of the Charter on the official website for the Charter for Comapssion

What a meeting! Arriving at the airport well in advance of my travelling fellows, getting the SARS export/import form stamped and grabbing the first few places in the check in queue for the group, I get ready to wait. The third person to arrive is an Egyptian and we soon strike up a conversation. This was prompted by me sharing information about the free wrapping service offered by EgyptAir just around the corner. He is amazed, this he tells me, does not happens in Egypt, there you pay for getting your bag wrapped.

At the first the conversation whirls around the relevant topics of our worlds, what we do, where we live, the differences between South Africa and Egypt and his take on the revolution in Egypt, surprising and thought provoking, so much different to what I experienced from the comfort of my sitting room passively partaking in it.

During the conversation, on and off as members of my travelling group arrives, he gets a name, Ramy Samir. He is a Protestant, the son of a Coptic Christian and married to a Catholic believer, an ecumenical household to say the very least. Just as we say good bye, for now, Ramy invites me to contact him when I am in Cairo on Good Friday with the promise to take me to church with his family. What a priviledge!

take of your shoes –

where you stand

is holy ground

be still

and know that

I am God

be still and hear

in your laced-up soul

the name of the holy


be still and know that

I-AM sends you

to be who you are

to be the

I-AM in you

unlace your soul –

wherever you stand

wherever you are the

I-AM in you

is holy ground

be still and know

that I-AM God.



Norm S D Esdon


Wisdom is calling

ed Geoffrey Duncan


This is it. 2 more assignments to complete, get it done already, one other errand to run, a day and a half’s playing with my son and I am on my way. The bags are packed, the paperwork in order and the leave application signed. I’m off on a hop, skip and jump through Europe.

The adventure starts on Thursday (31 March) when Emse and Janno will drop me at Monte Casino to catch the Gautrain bus. Instead of a two hour ordeal with Johannesburg traffic they are out and about in four quick kilometres. I’m catching the evening flight with EgyptAir to Cairo and from there to Geneva the next morning.

What’s the trip all about? The short answer is: experience. The trip of two halves is planned around experiencing different sights and sounds, smells and tastes, different ways of thinking and talking and a lot more. For the first part of the tour I am joined with 14 fellow travellers on the way to Taize, a retreat community in North-western France. After spending two days in Geneva we will head to this diverse community for seven days. We will take part in the daily rhythm of those who seek to bring about God’s kingdom in a very tangible way.

After this thought-provoking experience the group will split into smaller groups. The majority are slowly making their way back to Geneva from where they fly back to South Africa. I am doing things slightly different. Bearing a backpack and equipped with a few things to capture experiences I am heading out to Paris (2 days), Amsterdam (2 days), Rome (4 days), Athens (3 days) and Cairo (3 days) before I head back home.

During this whirlwind I will try to see and hear, taste and experience as many religious, cultural, and philosophical points of interest as possible. I am especially excited about my hosts. I am staying with native people in every city who kindly offered their couches for travellers seeking to experience more than just the tourism beat.

Now you know. This is what I will be up to during the month of April. If you are interested in my journey, please tune into this blog. I will try to post a blog every day of my trip, at least as much as internet access allows me. I might also send the odd tweet (follow me on @hannol) but rather than be connected to my phone I will be connecting to a world much different than my own. This blog entry will be duplicated at weltewoorde.wordpress.com.

Join me, even if it is from behind a computer! You are most welcome.


As a last thought. This journey, as the bigger journey of life, will be marked by a seeking and enjoying of mystery; barefoot!



  1. Write this list
  2. Make meditation a habit for every day, 30 minutes a bare minimum, but why stop there? In short: speak less, listen more.
  3. Read more. Include at least two classics, a cookbook, a book on travelling and a book picked out by a friend.
  4. Visit the places that are mentioned in the book, make the recipes and share the insights of the book picked by a friend.
  5. Run more, cycle more and swim more. Be active. Open the lungs, take note of every breath, the essence of my life.
  6. Connect more. Once again, in short, listen more to others. What is important to them? What is your answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything? Or, what is your question to the answer 42?
  7. Watch the diet, cut on the fries, the soft drinks and the chocolate. Add on the fruit, fibres and water.
  8. Strive for balance. Not only in regards to the diet, but life as a whole. Know when to work, and then work hard. Know when to play, and then play hard. Know when to rest, and then rest hard.
  9. Sleep less! We sleep too much.
  10. Chill, and know: it is ok to not be ok. Grace is abundant!

Reduce, Re-use, Recle.

Eet minder! Ry minder! Koop minder! Upgrade minder! Vergeet om as maatstaf die Geldenhuise (Jones’s) te gebruik. Bou kleiner! Sit ligte af! Sit die radio af as niemand luister nie! Dra klere langer! Begin ‘n wurmplaas en groentetuin. Gooi die swembad toe!

Verraai jou ego, spyker dit teen die kruis. Ons ego’s verg energie en energie veroorsaak ekstra CO2 wat die toekoms van ons kinders en verseker hulle kinders bedreig. Raak deel van die gesprek!

Hou op om dwars te trek om jou eie gemaksone te beskerm, die planeet is in die gemors en ons is die oorsaak. Rook minder! Eet minder vleis (moeilik vir ons Suid-Afrikaners!). Moenie met die 4×4 die kinders by die skool gaan haal of inkopies gaan doen nie, ons paaie is nie so sleg nie!

Maar nou ja, die goed kom te naby aan ons lyf; so wie stel belang? Ons gefokus op ons self, te hel met ons kinders. Wanneer hulle swaarkry is ons al dood! (‘n Argument wat meer as een persoon al actually teenoor my gebruik het).

Ons bely Christus, self-opofferende liefde is ‘n waarde van Hom, maar vir is dit een te veel gevra. Dit is mos maklik, se ek glo en dan kan ek maak wat ek wil, leef soos ek wil, want ek glo en is deur genade alleen gered. Ek wonder of Paulus of Jakobus sou saamstem? A person is not defined by the cover but by his actions (Megamind). Is it possible that our faith is also defined by our actions? (James of te wel Jakobus)

En ons keuse is? Onthou dit word bely deur ons dade!


With shoes we tread without a thought. We stomp around without a care in the world! There is no need; we are not discomforted by the place we choose to rest heavily for awhile. And more often than not we leave a small catastrophe behind with each step, blissfully unaware of the carnage, for our feet are encased in foot armour.

Going barefoot changes the equilibrium; no longer can we go blissfully unaware. We move to the other side of the equation, we are increated, acutely aware of what is underfoot. Stomping hurts, not only where we choose to stomp, but it causes pain to ourselves at the same time. Maybe we should rather say, the carnage is still the same, we just become aware of the effect of our tread, to others and to ourselves.

So please go barefoot, be increated, tread lightly, and live simply. Maybe such acts of simplicity and humbleness will allow others to simply live, and by grace, maybe, with an awareness of God.