Thin Ground – the place where Heaven and Earth are closest.

We recently took a journey, a Pilgrimage of sorts, to the resting place of our beloved Prof Botman. This collective Pilgrimage of Hope began at the Anathoth Chapel, where the group – consisting of friends, loved ones, and the recipients of his bursary fund – traveled through the Vineyards, and up to the steep Bottelary Hill. At the very top, we were able to catch our breaths and enjoy the breathtaking views of Hangklip, Rooi-Els, False Bay, and the majestic Table Mountain, decked in clouds. The journey was a beautiful representation of Professor Botman’s life, the Chapel encompassing his dedication to God and his work within the Church community; the trek uphill a testament to the challenges he endured and overcame, and the people who were present the embodiment of the lives he touched and changed during his life and after his departure.

The presence of the recipients made this Pilgrimage of Hope even more special – to know that his life’s work was not in vain and that even today, his legacy lived on through the lives he touched and the opportunities he afforded others. When we reached the Pinnacle of our journey, arriving at the Onder Papegaaiberg cemetery, there was a resonating sense of appreciation at the graveside of the man whose life we came to honor. Emotional messages of thanks and appreciation were shared at his graveside, and one of the most beautiful tributes was made by Prof Elena Mouton who said that ‘We are standing on thin ground; a place where heaven and earth are closest’. A fitting sentiment, knowing Prof Botman’s life, his legacy, and his love that was deeply rooted in taking care of his community and honoring God.

The remainder of our journey took us through some of his work of Hope in the town of Stellenbosch, through the University and surrounding areas from Helshoogte to Pniel. Our feet were a constant reminder of the challenges others face to make a living and survive, and we shared many moments of gratitude and thanks for those who contribute towards the Russel Botman Bursary Fund and the ways in which this fund continues to make a difference in so many lives.

The last leg of our journey took us through Devon Valley, the Berg River, and finally to Drakenstein Prison and the Mandela Prison House, where Professor Mouton’s words reverberated through all of us as we realized that thin ground, the place where heaven and earth are closest, can be found anywhere great leaders have traveled to make a difference.