“I have walked the long road to freedom.”

As the world gathers to celebrate the life and ministry of Nelson Mandela, I would like to share two of my favorite pieces from him.  His life and words have much to teach us about our own faith journeys.


“I have walked the long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.  I have taken moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibility, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

And, from Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage by Nelson Mandela and Richard Stengel:

Courage is not the absence of fear.
Be measured.
Lead from the front.
Look the part.
Lead from the back.
See the good in others.
Keep your rivals close.
Have a core principle.
Know when to say no.
Know your enemy.
It’s always both.
Love makes the difference.
It’s a long game.
Quitting is leading too.
Find your own garden.

Using his gifts to meet the world’s needs, Nelson Mandela embodied God’s mission of restoring and reconciling.

2 thoughts on ““I have walked the long road to freedom.””

  1. Nelson Mandela is gone, but are you aware of The Elders? This is a non-govenmental international group that was formed by Mandela to carry on the kind of work he did. It was chaired by Bishop Tutu until last year. I could write forever about the good they do, but instead suggest that you check their web page: theelders.org. They need our prayers. Interestingly, they do not request money. Instead they suggest ways that we can work toward the same goals that they have.

  2. jackie bernacchi

    There are two national movements that I have always found remarkable, not in perfection, but in grace and holiness. I can’t help but think of them now.
    The humility and honesty of a beaten, exiled, once powerful people to to take a sober look at their sinful past and openly confess that they had brought about their own demise was perhaps original and unique in all of sacred history. But, exilic an post exilic Israel found the strength to do that.
    At the end of Aprartied, de Klerk was forced to include amnesty in his exit deal. Nelson Mandela had to work with the cry for bloody justice from the many Blacks in South Africa against amnesty.
    Mandela’s Truth and Reconcillation Comission, chaired by Desmond Tutu, gave conditional amnesty to those from the apartied who would come forward and confess honestly to thier abuses of fellow humans. It further offered the victims and families of victims the to tell their painful story to the world.
    No mass National hangings or fireing squads. It was a move to forgive in and as the nation’s best interest.
    The new free South Africa found the strengh to do that.

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