By Sr. Cecily Bourdillion MMM Zimbabwe/ Ireland 23/10/2022
I had reached ” home” in Harare, Zimbabwe, coming from our mission in Chiulo, Angola, to enjoy a holiday with my brother. Chiulo is near the Namibian border, so we used the airport of Windhoek, capital of Namibia, for our outward journeys. I was called to the telephone. It was the Travel Agent in Windhoek, apologising as they had to make a change to my return flight. Words to this effect were used: ”We are very sorry but would you mind us changing your route on the return journey and stopping at the town of Victoria Falls?” I drew a breath of excitement and replied: ”Not at all”. My brother put a note in my hand and said: ”You must visit the Falls.”
My holiday came quickly to an end as all holidays do, and then I was on the plane returning to Namibia. The first stop was the town of Victoria Falls. In my youth I had visited the Victoria Falls – one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Here the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in Africa, plunges 108 metres into a gorge and continues its 2,700 Km journey to the Indian Ocean. Dr. David Livingstone, missionary and explorer, was the first European to set eyes on this wonder in 1855 and he named them after the reigning English monarch, Queen Victoria. Out of respect for David Livingstone who did so much for the local people, the name was never changed. As we approached the Victoria Falls, I recalled my last visit there with my parents – now deceased. I had sat on a tree trunk not far from the precipitous edge, facing the Falls to absorb the beauty and grandeur and praise God.
I heard an American voice call: ”Hey Sister, don’t fall in there!” Perhaps I had fallen asleep and was nodding!
The aeroplane was flying low preparing for landing. Suddenly I saw ”the smoke” – the smoke that thunders – the name given by the natives – ”Mosi-Oa-Tunia.” The spray of the falls rises into the air like smoke and can be seen far and wide. My heart jumped with joy, excitement, and awe. We landed for a three-hour stop. My brother’s note in hand I disembarked and called a taxi to take me as near to the Falls as possible and arranged with the driver to call back after two hours.
My heart soared and my feet seemed hardly to touch the ground as I walked towards the ”smoke that thunders.” The path took me through the rainforest – one place in the world where it rains every day because of the continuous spray from the Falls. I had my umbrella! So overjoyed was I that I smiled and greeted everyone I met on the path. Then the thought came to me that I was perhaps being too familiar, so I decided to try to contain my joy a little! Then I felt a tap on my shoulder – the pharmacist whom we knew in Namibia was visiting with his family!
I found a seat in front of the Falls where I could view the 1,708 metres wide expanse of water gushing over the edge into the gorge, the turbulent waters white and frothing sending spray up into the air. The sun shining through the spray left a beautiful rainbow spanning the Falls – a reminder of God’s Covenant of peace. I then made my way to the end of the Falls where one is able to get very close and from the side watch the waters fall into the ‘Boiling Pot’, a gorge of writhing, seething, bubbling water.
I tried to take in, to absorb some of this awesome, beautiful, heavenly part of God’s wonderful creation – and then gazed in wonder and reverence. With all the love and praise that my poor human heart could muster I gave glory, praise and thanksgiving to God, the Creator.
The time flew by and soon I was making my way back to the taxi and the airport, revived in body and soul by this wonder of Creation!