Ngomakurira (23-11-06)

Tied up in knots
The French have a word for it; dénouement. Literally it is the untying (of knots). It has come to mean the final act in a drama where the truth comes out and a new reality emerges. Are we moving towards this in our seven-year drama? For Paul it happened at Damascus. The w


hole false thrust of his life fell apart and a new life opened before him. Many of us as individuals have had such moments. ‘It changed my life,’ we say. It can be a moment of extraordinary liberation and give us new energy.
Something like this happened in the life of the scientist, Richard Feynman, who worked at ‘humble’ problems in physics and eventually was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1965. He hated the prospect of the formal ceremony of receiving the prize and the ‘snobbery associated with kings’ but was ‘loosened’ by the welcome in Stockholm, Sweden. ‘The Prize,’ he wrote, ‘was a signal to permit [friends, relatives, students and colleagues] to express, and me to learn about, their feelings …For this I thank Alfred Nobel and the many … and you, Swedish people, with your honours and your trumpets and your king – forgive me. For I understand at last – such things provide entrance to the heart.’
It happens to individuals. It can also happen to countries and maybe the whole planet? England in 1950 was a grim place. Scarred and exhausted by war, blackened by the smoke of factories and with its grey sky ever-ladened with rain, it seemed to be trapped in decline. Then a moment came – the accession of a Queen – and new energy flowed. Public buildings were cleaned up and smog (smoke + fog) was outlawed. Today we have climate warming. Again there is a sense of hopelessness. Who will loosen the knots we tie ourselves in? We await our Damascus.
And so to Zimbabwe! We are tied up in knots. No one seems to know how to undo them. We await something: some dawn of understanding, some moment of conversion. In the second century Irenaeus wrote, ‘the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience.’ Mary was faced with the choice of remaining secure in her own little world of Nazareth or of opening herself to God in an incredible act of trust. We know what she chose and for two thousand years have reflected on her ‘yes.’ She untied the knot not only for Eve but for us all. The Germans even give her the title of Knotenlöserin, the one who unties knots.
I met a man at the weekend who was burdened by family problems. ‘I can’t even think straight,’ he said. He needed someone to think for him and with him, someone to untie his knots. That’s how we, as a people, are in Zimbabwe today but do we really want someone to loosen our knots?


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