Do I really wanna Surf?

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Do not let the injury or limitation of one thing become an injury or limitation to all thing

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Peace on earth hoodies Surgery at 3 Surgery at 41

I blog in peace. A warm welcome to new subscribers.

The past 8 months have been tumultuous at a personal level. My beautiful Daddy was diagnosed with cancer in August and lost his life in December. Serious issues relating to violence my daughter and I were subject to reared their head when I discovered that my daughter had been in the presence of violence and had witnessed it up until very recently.

 

In February I broke a bone in my foot and have had extensive corrective surgery to my lower right leg and foot. The surgery was a lot more extensive than envisioned and I am 5 weeks into 8 weeks of being pretty much house-bound, not being able to drive or swim.

 

It has been a time of soul searching and questioning just about everything I believe.

 

Do the Christians I know really represent Jesus. Including, or most particularly myself?

Can I, as a survivor of violence, and with the continued threat of violence, really back restorative justice? Do I really believe there is no place for redemptive violence? Do I really believe restorative justice works?

Do I really believe it is possible to dismantle violence and establish peace?

Do I really want to surf?

 

As a child age 11 months, I was paralyzed by encephalitis from the neck down. I had just started standing when I got ill. My Daddy was overseas on business at the time and my two big brothers and myself were in Pietermaritzburg with our Mother, visiting our Grandparents. 7 babies were struck with encephalitis. 6 lost their lives. 1 lived. Me. I did not move at all for several days. My father rushed back from his trip and when he entered the hospital room, he said my face broke into a smile he would never forget. That was the nature of my relationship with my Daddy.

 

 

 

Over the next 9 years I had extensive surgery and daily physio. Age ten I abandoned a wheelchair and a “special school” to walk with a stick and go to a “normal school”. My physio told me I would never cope without a wheelchair. She told me I would never make it in a “normal school”. I didn’t believe her. I got walking. I went on to become vice-head girl of my school in matric. I think that qualifies as making it.

 

I did give up stuff though. I had been a very good swimmer. I desperately wanted to swim against kids without disability. But I was pretty bummed at how fast they were. So I gave it up and shifted my focus to public speaking and academics. It was the 80s and my father had started to talk to me about what was going on in South Africa and I started to become very conscious about being part of bringing about peace and justice in our land. I went on to study law, practice for a decade and then entered the world of Alternative Dispute Resolution full time 8 years ago. I had qualified with International Peacemaker as part of the board of the Christian Lawyers Association right at the beginning of practice. Over the past four years my focus has shifted more and more to transformative and restorative methods of achieving justice and establishing peace. But I digress.

 

My brothers, the one in particular, felt there was more room for improvement in my walking. He often spoke to me about it and at Varsity started taking me to gym and physio. I was committed to getting fit and strong but never that committed to abandoning my crutch. My father would always fiercely defend me as the most courageous person he knew and that I had already achieved the insurmountable by abandoning my wheelchair.

 

In December on the Madiba died, and just a few days before my Dad, the Big O lost his life, I was sitting with him on his bed. I told him all my lawyer jokes, a bunch of other really brilliant jokes and I told him I was going to change the world. He said: “I know you are”. I told him I was gonna learn to surf. He said “I know you are.” I said: “No Dad, you don’t understand, I am not gonna boogie board or body surf, I am gonna friggin stand up surf”. He said: “I know you are”.  He was that guy

 

Two years ago I took up open water swimming. After twenty years out of swimming training and after being back in the pool three weeks I told my family I was gonna swim a mile in the sea. My Dad said: “I know you are” He was always that guy. He completely backed me. Completely. There was no room for doubt.

 

The past 5 months I have been doing life without him. And serendipitously I find myself having major reconstructive surgery to my foot, just because I broke a little bone. A second shot at learning to walk. A second shot at learning balance. A forced rest. A forced time to heal….from everything.

My brother Gareth sent me the most amazing video of Bruce Lee who was forced to rest when he injured his back. It was amazing because I had learnt through this experience how vital rest is to healing. He talks in the video about one of life’s biggest challenges being to express who you really are. I have been able to search the depths and ask myself profoundly “Who am I”

My beautiful daughter is so strong. So courageous. She said to me the other night: Mommy, this year I have discovered true joy. Up until this year I was numb. I didn’t allow myself to feel anything. The hard part is now I feel pain. But I wouldn’t give it up because I have learnt to know joy you have to be able to feel pain.

She has learnt at 13 what has taken me 4 decades to stumble upon.

So where do I stand on restorative justice. I back it 100 percent. I back non-adversarial dispute resolution 100%. I am completely opposed to any form of violence. I am completely opposed to the idea of redemptive violence and any systems that mirror it. I think I have a voice in this as four years of being subject to violence nearly stripped me of my life and everything in it.

I also think I have a voice because I practice this stuff. I am seeing results. I am seeing lives change, communities change, schools change. It works.

At the heart of what I do is restoration. At the heart of who I am is restoration. Central to my ability to learn to surf is restoration. As a follower of Christ, central to my faith is the greatest work of restoration in history: the reconciliation of all and all things on earth and in heaven.

And I have learnt how important it is not to let the injury or limitation of one thing, injury or limit all things.

As always

Peace

Upcoming Training workshops in ADR (mediation and dialogue processes) and Restorative Justice Peacemaking:

12-16 May Jozi

19-23 May Durban

9-13 June Cape Town

7-11 July Winter Schools for Students

Email: training@adr-networksa.co.za

Dispute Resolution Email: sheena@mediatorsa.co.za or Brandon@adr-networksa.co.za

Access to Justice: legalservices@accesstojustice.co.za

Ethical Streetwear: Bloodless Revolution hoodies, beanies and other: A2J@accesstojustice.co.za

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