In sleepy little Knysna where nothing ever happens
by Simone Abawat
In March two years ago I left Johannesburg for Knysna. It was a difficult decision: I was leaving Joseph behind because he was well into his first year of training to be a chef at the Swiss Hotel School; I was suspicious of my own motives because somewhere inside I wondered if I was running away; it would mean moving (back) in with my mother; I was unsure if I’d be able to find work and I feared I might be burying myself in this little town where nothing ever happens. What actually did transpire, though, was that Joseph rose up into his adulthood; he finished his chef training in Johannesburg and has now begun a 12-month chef internship at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs in the USA. I bought a car wash business and have become financially independent for the first time, and the night after I landed in Knysna I met Stephen Twycross – widower, business-owner, humourist, golf enthusiast and the kindest soul imaginable – and we’ve been together ever since.
From my little office overlooking a busy street in central Knysna I can see the whole of life reflected in the passing traffic. Weddings, funerals, school holidays, lunchtime and payday – all there in plain sight. We have our resident homeless, victims of alcohol and drug abuse, and most possibly of other abuses too somewhere else in their lives: There’s Marius who tries to sell us the free local newspaper every Thursday, and who regularly survives stepping out into the middle of traffic without ever looking left or right, Michael who routinely picks our pavement on which to have an epileptic fit so that we have to call ambulances to come and rescue him, Sean who tries to sell me the same cookery book every week that he found at Hospice around the corner, and Martin who somehow manages to find the best lemons and avocados I’ve ever eaten.
Our little car wash team is also something that I sit and watch from my cubby hole – a group of five that I’ve grown to love and respect and whose humanity arises afresh every day in a familiar warmth. Kenny, charismatic salesman par excellence whose daily ambition is to extract as much money as possible from every pocket - including mine. He’s elusive and unknowable, the car wash phantom who’s there one moment and gone the next, like smoke. Funny, witty, protective Sly who watches every move and makes sure I’m never in trouble, and who responded once when I asked why I was the only one sweeping with: “I don’t know. I thought you liked sweeping”, and Washie, Nico and MCleod who are warm and dependable and caring and involved. They’re kind and protective over my mother, their favourite Gogo, and Joseph, their brother.
So, in sleepy little Knysna where nothing ever happens, I’ve learnt to breathe and to care, to pay attention, and I’ve gleaned something of being in relationship with other human beings – aspects of daily life that have always been obscure to me. There isn’t a Christian Community here and I miss it – terribly – but attending the Africa Seminary throughout the year goes some way towards filling that void and helps to keep a connection to what nourishes, and to the community. For many years I’ve grappled with questions about truth and illusion, with trying to understand what is morality, really, and with seeing where in our lives do these questions wait to be recognised. Here, there is the space to try to follow them more deeply. After work in the evenings my mother and I fix the world from her little lounge at the Amble Ridge retirement village where she now lives, and then I go home and make supper with Stephen. In Knysna, where nothing ever happens, I’ve found life and love and home.
by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
The Blankers family have been an integral part of our community for decades, Christine and Carel with their five children building strong core strength for and with the community. Their commitment carried the services and festivals and manifold activities of our community life, often initiating ideas that still live with us today as our ‘Joburg tradition’. They stand for all those in their generation, who now have expanded their horizons beyond Johannesburg, yet remain unforgotten here where an essential part of their destinies have been woven together with ours.
Christine-Maria has been working in the area of international humanitarian projects in Stuttgart and Geneva. More recently she has been directly involved with the migrant issues that have arisen in Germany. She lives in Stuttgart, is married and gave birth to a very special little boy last July.
Batya has an internet presence that is well worth taking note of, which highlights her extraordinary entrepreneurial talent and empathetic heart. Look up Chancen International, especially about an initiative in Rwanda. She is based in Berlin, Germany.
Almost exactly nine years ago Carla moved to Germany after she matriculated at Michael Mount Waldorf School. After first finding her feet in the new surroundings as an au pair and from being told that she didn’t qualify to study at a German international university, she obtained her BA degree as an educational scientist from the University of Tübingen two weeks ago. In this time she married, worked part-time at a psychiatric clinic with children and youth, and received her beautiful little girl Eloise Sybil in May 2018. She and Christine-Maria live close to each other in Stuttgart.
Carla with baby Eloise is centre with Ingmar behind and Carel to her left. To her right is Christine-Maria in the wheelchair, Michael Preuß with baby Elias, Batya kneeling, Christine and Batya’s partner behind. To Christine’s right Bernadette with dark hair and Beatrice in blue dress. On the left of the photo some of the Lampson family
And now the twins have begun their individual journeys after always having shared their life together until December, when they left Stellenbosch University, Beatrice with Honours in Social Work and Bernadette with a B.Com Honours degree in environmental sciences.
Beatrice has just boarded a plane to take up a job in London.
Bernadette began work in January in the Cape Town office of an international environmental company.
Mother Christine is loving her class at the Michael Oak Waldorf School in Cape Town, as well as being a grandmother, friend, advisor and much more to the many souls connected to her heart.
And Carel, whom we see faithfully on Sundays, well, let’s see what the year will bring him as he travels around visiting his truly vast family between South Africa, Germany and Holland.
Where are they now?
Members of our congregation move away from Johannesburg. Whenever they visit us they feel immediately at home. In part this is through receiving our monthly newsletter. We too would hope to remain connected through these posts and learn something of their lives and where they are now living.