Part 1 of our conversation with Bishop Paul Verryn is about the Spaces of Hope hearings happening around South Africa. Reminiscent of the TRC, but unrelated, these hearings provide opportunities for communities to come forward and share their challenges, burdens, struggles.
Apartheid and certain current political forces created structural invisibility; these hearings counter that by witnessing people, declaring “I am here, I am listening, YOU MATTER”. In attempting to bring healing to trauma, one of the most critical actions is for the person to be witnessed. This is a sacred act which allows someone to uncoil what is held so tightly within, to bring it to light and air and to walk with another person instead of alone, where surely one can be subsumed.
Why Paul Verryn is so important is that he goes to these places, he cares about peoples’ stories. He acknowledges the core fact that we are all connected and that someone else’s pain is part of our humanity.