I have been listening to a group from South Africa. They are “Die Heuwels Fantasties” who sing a piece called “Beloofde Land” which in Afrikaans means Promised Land. For the Afrikaner people of South Africa their country is indeed the Promised Land and saw themselves and the country in Biblical terms. Today all South Africans can see their country this way.
But the central idea here, of a promised land is important to all of us. The Hebrew people were promised of a homeland of their own is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God established by Christ for us. A new homeland. So while we are yet strangers and aliens in this world, in it but not of it, we can take comfort in this new Beloofde Land here and now.
What I find so appealing with this song, aside from the melody and the multiple images it provides, is the upbeat nature of the song. Something our world very much needs. Frenetic is not the same as upbeat. We find our lives so filled with stresses and cares. We are often propelled down rather than lifted up. This means our lives are heavier than they need to be. We need to know and experience the happiness possible in our lives. Problems will always be there, but how we find happiness will dictate how we deal with the issues. “…in the desert people of faith are needed who, by the example of their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive.” Benedict XVI
The Promised Land for the Hebrew people, a place of longed for happiness in God’s presence and his freedom. It is a place of fulfilment. No more searching, no more wandering. And since the Kingdom is not an earthly one, our promised land is that kingdom we become members of at our baptism and live, while here in this world. We, like the Hebrew people wander through our own deserts eventually crossing into our true homeland.
Frequently we live through a desert of one sort or another. Often in prayer life we experience periods like this. Even the great saints we know and respect faced these times. The fields of green are sometimes veiled from us. But we need to trust and continue through the desert. It is in perseverance we arrive at our destination.