From Exile to Restoration & a Detour Along the Way
Good Friday Reflections on Mark 8.31 – 9.1: How the Exile of One Man brought Restoration for All
By Rob Stegmann
Eugene Peterson defines exile as being in a place we don’t want to be. He writes:
We are separated from home. We are not permitted to reside in the place where we comprehend and appreciate our surroundings. We are forced to be away from that which is most congenial to us. It is an experience of dislocation – everything is out of joint; nothing fits together. The thousand details that have been built up through the years that give a sense of at-homeness – gestures, customs, rituals, phrases – are all gone. Life is ripped out of the familiar soil of generations of language, habit, weather, storytelling, and rudely and unceremoniously dropped into some unfamiliar spot of earth. The place of exile may boast a higher standard of living. It may be more pleasant in its weather. That doesn’t matter. It isn’t home (Run with the Horses, 2001: 150).
These moments of exile can be brought on by any number of things. And it is during these moments that life becomes a little too much to bear. Nothing is familiar. You don’t recognise anyone and no-one recognises you. You are all alone. Isolated.
I remember struggling with acclimatising to Cape Town when I moved down a little over a year ago. My entire life was thrown upside down as a tried to familiarise myself with this new world. I spent a great deal of my time remapping my life: spiritually, mentally, geographically, and relationally. The surroundings were different. I’ve had to learn a whole new geography and have discovered what it means to navigate Cape Town by the mountain, a helpful tip every Capetonian was quick to offer. What most of them didn’t get was that the mountain, as familiar as it is them, was as unfamiliar as the street names were to me.
In some ways moving from Johannesburg to Cape Town was a kind of exile experience. Not only...