Retiring or Re-Enlivening in the Rurals!
by Anne Gillham
Some background for those who don’t know us
I arrived in Johannesburg from Zimbabwe in September 1982. Having studied in an Anthroposophical group with Mrs Joan King in Harare, I was anxious to link up with the Anthroposophical Society and the Church. Rev. Evelyn Capel and Rev. Georg Dreissig had visited the group and held services, From the first experience it felt like Home to me.
By 1983 I and my two children, Marcia and Rhett, attended church as regularly as we could, due to distance and nursing shifts.
I became a member of the church and met and married Terry in our church in 1987. The preparation for marriage and the service was conducted by Rev. Peter Van Breda. We moved to Blairgowrie and had two children David and Michael. All four children participated in the Sunday Service for Children and were confirmed.
Thus 32 years passed for me in my Spiritual Home. Sustained by my total passion for The Christian Community Church, for the life of The Community and the richness and of participating in all that was possible. Our family happily shared with love and appreciation in all the rhythms and activities made available to us in this wonderful symbiosis.
Terry and I had holidayed in Morgan Bay since 1992 and felt so at home in the village we proceeded to build a wooden home in 2005, and shared many holidays with family and friends.
Fast forward to 2015 when we retired and decided to leave Johannesburg and move to Morgan Bay in the Eastern Cape. Residents of Morgan Bay being Primarily pensioners.
2016 to date!
Morgan's Bay in the Easter Cape (Google Maps)
Terry and I were lucky enough to have grown up in the rurals, so retiring to Morgan Bay was “just like going home!” So, has it come up to expectation? A resounding: “Yes! It has”.
Looking back on the first year, we were engrossed just in the physical changes required: moving in; rearranging; ‘fitting yourself in’ and, exploring our surrounds. We sanded and varnished floors, painted, fixed broken railings.
Then we looked at the garden and having our youngest son, Michael, living with us decided to start immediately on our organic vegetable garden project! After much research we decided on raised beds using the “the layered” method. One must think about not having to get down on your hands and knees! This has been the best fun and we have enjoyed eating and sharing our crop rotations. We still find it quite a miracle that the plants “just grow”. With our last crop we had cut worms and beetles sharing the takings! Still so much to learn!
In between our grandson Jonathan, Marcia’s son, spent time with us over Easter, July and Christmas holidays. This had us celebrating festivals, hiking, swimming, fishing and generally being in holiday mode.
We were lucky enough to be invited to hike the Otter Trail - five days hiking between Storms River and Natures Valley. This necessitated us having to train in preparation for this arduous event, so a lot of time was spent exploring the Kranse and trails of Morgan Bay. What a treat that hike was. No roads, no people (just our hiking group), no phones! Just a hard slog and magnificent, sometimes overwhelming views. With Thankful hearts, we absorbed our environment, watched and listened to the silence.
We have also hiked with friends in and around Plettenberg Bay, in the Wellington valley of the Western Cape, around the Hogsback mountain area of the Eastern Cape and taken a road trip to the Pilanesberg and Hoedspruit, and another two trips through the Transkei to Durban and the South Coast.
This year we have travelled to Sri Lanka to visit our son Rhett, Claire and our three grandchildren Callan, Cara and Camille who have a holiday home in Hikkaduwa. This is situated not far from Galle on the South West coast of Sri Lanka, although they live in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
David and his lovely partner Caitlin, live and work in London have been out a couple of times to South Africa to visit, and we have travelled away with them.
Going to Church on our way through Johannesburg on our travels has been my food for the soul.
In between we have participated in all the festivals and church fundraisers of Morgan Bay and Kei Mouth. Pancake festivals, the Footprint festival, bird watching walks, National Sea Rescue evenings, Soup Evenings, anything that was happening. Here we got to meet all our new neighbours and were very generously welcomed into the community.
We have a lovely little inter-denominational church, St Peter’s, in Kei Mouth, our neighbouring village, (5 km “as the crow flies” but 15 km by road), which is looked after by “everyone”. Most of the fundraisers are for the church and many folks are just ‘hands on’ regarding the care of the church and gardens itself. Coming up shortly is “breakfast in the garden at the church” at R50 per head and a Soup Evening where many of us donate a pot of soup. A hat is passed around for donations and here we experience most generous support. The last Soup Evening raised R7 000, not bad for a bunch of Pensioners!
Every Saturday there is a farmer’s market where we buy our fresh eggs and vegetables and enjoy tea and pancakes with the locals and catch up on all the village news. There is also a monthly magazine which is published, the “MOR KEI ECHO”, with all the local news and stories to keep us chuckling and feeling part of the greater community.
I have joined the Ratepayer’s Association so that I can really see how everything works on the ground here, and to see if I can be of assistance. As with most rural places these days, all upgrades and repairs are done by the community itself. The Great Kei Municipality has no money!
I have now spent a full year in trying to put into place a recycling project with waste entrepreneurs who in turn will earn a living from their endeavours and resolve our communities waste/litter problem. We have come a long way as regards this project but are not quite there yet! Watch this space!
Terry can be seen out on the ‘pensioner’ road gang, filling holes and clearing edges! He has also started playing bowls at the local club, and has enjoyed ‘away’ matches, playing in Kei Mouth, Cathcart and Port Alfred.
Our dogs look forward to a daily run-about, so we head down to the beach which is a mere 300m stroll, for a long walk and often a swim, almost daily. The views, tides and beach are always different. Full moon and the new moon take on a completely different understanding when you witness the effect they have on the sea, high high-tides and low low-tides! We have to pinch ourselves to realise that we are actually here enjoying and experiencing this all as much as we do!
A highlight has been the visits from Shirley Marais (nee Higgins) with whom we started reading “The Christian Community Creed” together and sharing some deep, enlightening conversations. I have reciprocated with a visit to Port Alfred, where Shirley lives now, to continue our studies.
I am so very grateful for the monthly Christian Community newsletter, keeping me informed of the weekly Bible reading, festivals, talks and happenings, enriching and allowing me to participate from afar, helping to keep my resolve strong. The Christian Community: right here in our home.
We have slowed down a lot. No rushing anywhere for us, we can literally ‘stop and smell the roses’. We have loved the meeting of new friends, the visits from old friends, the exploration into the future. And the time to make it all meaningful.
We are enjoying this next chapter of re-enlivening our lives. We are still transitioning.
We do miss you all, the rhythms and community life of the Church, and all of our friends.
But - Our hearts are full.
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.
The Act of Consecration of Man
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Sunday Service for Children precede by a story