It’s always been a tangled mess in here.
I can’t seem to undo any of it.
The harder I try, the messier it becomes and the tireder I get.
Can I sit right here and never, ever move again.
Please Lord Jesus.
The opinion of a leader. Tangle.
Past failures. Tangle.
Stage fright. Tangle.
All these invisible knots tied tightly to me, tripping me, chafing me, pulling me back.
Oh, and FEAR.
So much fear…
am I good enough?
For you Jesus
for my friends
for my family
for my church
for my work
Do I deserve life?
Carrying this fear in my voice; I sing – spirit lead me where my trust is without borders – inside I cower but Lord Jesus how will I ever reach these waters when even the sand on the shore looks like it will sink me in.
Again I sing –Holy spirit burn like a fire, all consuming, consume me– inside I still in a corner and reason with Jesus, saying Lord please not too much, lest I be seen as a distraction on platform. Let me only ever burn and be free in the quiet walls of my home, the time when it’s just you and me, allow me to keep my dignity in public.
Over and over again I shout out – I’m gonna sing until my voice won’t let me, as thunders roar I’ll shout your praise- then whisper… Please don’t let me be singing too flat, off key, too loud, too distracting… For the sake of those around me.
Always busy with knots and the fear,
Yet a still small prayer prevails, refusing to be silent, relentlessly beseeching,
Teach me Jesus, teach me, show me, lead me to let it all go. Unfurl me and guide me to being who you made me to be. The worshiper you whispered in me and gave life to as you lovingly molded me with your hands from your heart’s desired imagination. Lead me to living as that person. Fearless, abandoned and wholly stitched in your glory. Moved only by your breath. Remind me who I am and grant me the grace and freedom to be that person.
You came with one side and I with the other. We gently stitched each of our sides together creating our lasting cloth of friendship. It was awkwardly at first, well at least for me, but we carried on stitching. Now I love it, this friendship garment we’ve gently crafted in our own time. It’s ours and no one else wears us the way that we do.
Our colours include singing in the living room with spatulas, while you twirl in circles pretending to be a ballerina and I to be Beyonce. It is telling you about my family sorrows and private battles. My broken parts and my financial woes at Primi Piatti, as tears I am no longer able to control stream down my face.
I see our friendship as beautiful bold bright colours, bursts of laughter and defending a viewpoint we feel passionately about. Even on opposite sides I learn from you. Your opinion is always the one that is most unique amongst others. I had moments where I wished to be gifted enough to dedicate a poem to how it feels to be in friendship with you. I love wearing and boasting of the unique beauty of our friendship garment.
Our friendship garment is strong, even in the frays, it is inclusive, a picture unpixelated. The shades are different but clear, the cloth varies, but it’s stitched with strength, unity and Jesus. It is a sweet smelling aroma to anyone close enough to observe it.
Today I felt our garments opposing, I felt yours shrinking away from mine, I tried to stitch it together, but you shrunk even more and I was left with a gaping piece of cloth and nothing to stitch it onto. You pulled away, slowly at first, almost reluctantly, denying and even laughing at my hurt and concern in the obvious distance you created.
What do I have today? A one sided woven garment that used to be ours; once warm now draughty. Having you apart from it is cold and empty. There is an echo, because your voice and presence isn’t here as I speak and call out in expectation of your response. Each time my heart hopes. I tentatively make a sound in your direction but an echo of my own words responds back to me. Now I’ve put it away for a little while, this precious loved part of me. The part that is you.
It’s hard. I second guess myself. Has it been too short of a time for me to just put away who we are or used to be? Is putting us away giving in? Am I a bad friend, the kind to fold in, fold up and “put away” who we are/were? Or I am holding on to something that can never be pieced together again?
How long before I stop expecting you to be my friend again, how long from now to “I give up” on us?
All I know is, once we were friends and now we are are a shadow, a weak shadow of what and who we were. I used to mind, hurt and cry much more, I still do, but I no longer pay attention to those emotions, to stay sane and I carry on. I don’t know what else there is to do.
I love you.
In all this I love you, I want to stop loving.
I don’t want to stop loving you.
But I need to learn to understand that once you chose me, now you choose me no longer and I must respect and let go. It hurts.
I hope you don’t mind that I sometimes hint of who we used to be through pictures stories songs and places we’ve been to.
You see, you might’ve stopped loving and trusting and washing your nets with me, but my eye, oh my eye, my heart, damn it to heck for the persistent hope that betrays me in it; will perpetually be on that horizon waiting to run to you ,embrace you and shout “Prepare the fattened calf and let us feast”, should you dare, just dare, to choose me again some day.
It has been a long overnight drive from Cape Town to Mthatha; we’ve driven through many villages and small busy towns in-between.
I take many pictures.
I am very tired when we arrive, but more than tired I am glad to be close to my aunt.
By the time I have put my bag away, and peed in the bucket behind the door, my aunt has warmed water for me to refresh myself from the long drive, she even gently commands me to check that my bath water is to my liking so she can adjust it if it’s too hot/cold. I feel like a five year old and my sad heart is very happy to be in her loving care.
I finish my bath and ready the shoes, dress and accessories I’ll be wearing to my uncle’s funeral the following day.
It is the day of the funeral, we are on our way to eMalungeni, to mourn, sing, pray, laugh and remember my uncle, her cousin. The drive is reminiscent of my childhood road trips to my grandmother’s house. It’s the same way but for the turnoff.
The funeral is of course a very sombre affair, cushioned by seeing cousins, and elders I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I hide behind taking photos of as many of my family members as I can sneak in.
On the drive back we talk about whom we were able to see and catch up with. My aunt doing most of the talking.
My heart is so full by just being with her, that I hardly make a sound as she speaks, apart from grunts of affirmation every now and again, so she knows she has my attention.
When we get home, we call my mom, who wasn’t able to make her cousin’s funeral. We take turns talking to her until it is time for dinner. My aunt is worried that I might get bored out here in the rural part of town, where the biggest disruptors of peace are roosters in the morning and the insistent moo of the village cows throughout the day.
I tell her that I feel almost overwhelmed with a sense of peace and wellbeing. I think she sees the truth of this in my content smile, because her body visibly relaxes.
In the evening she makes me umphokoqo from maize she has refined herself, the maas we use is from a cow whose calf can sometimes be seen being bullied by the naughty village boys.
My aunt brings two blankets out, one for me and one for her. She carries a bench for us to sit on, so we can watch the city lights while we chatter in the crisp cold. The dogs are by our feet and the chickens make gentle sounds in their coup on our right.
She asks me if I’m well, if I’m comfortable, if I’m full, if I need anything more. I look at her under the evening sky and tell her I am content.
This is the thread my visit carries until the day I leave for Cape Town.
She tells me how the lavender helps to keep the snakes away, how the dogs can be a nuisance because they help themselves to the chicken eggs and sometimes the chicks too. She says how the goats and birds eat the harvest and chicken feed. It feels like a dream to me. The entire stay feels like a dream.
On my last evening, my auntie is worried she won’t have anything good or fulfilling for me to eat, my vegetarian ways are the source of her concern.
She makes me carrots, spinach and potatoes, with onion and grated cheese, I look at this plate and picture my aunt, planting the seeds, tending the garden and harvesting it all, to deliberately make dinner for me. Her heart’s work. Her hand’s work.
I don’t have adequate words for what I feel when I think of this moment.
All the love my aunt has in her physical being and her emotional being she gives to me literally on a plate yet still she asks me if it is enough. Asking casually, conversationally and unconsciously, because if it isn’t she has more to pour out to me.
I am reminded all over again how incredible the women in my family truly are.
**I took all the photos on this blog post. They belong to me. Talk to me before you use my photos please.**
To be “forever young” is to die to growth, it is to mourn yourself while you’re still living.
“Have you noticed how fat you’re getting?” Direct question to Unathi two weeks ago.
My colourful cupboard is heaving with a hefty amount of clothing that no longer fits “as it should”. I almost cried when I held up my red and black, tiny waisted, almost backless top. I decided to put it on to motivate myself to “do better”. It stretched so much that the red turned a shade lighter. I don’t remember how I handled this failed attempt at self motivation. I’m almost confident that series and a bag of chips were part of the recovery process.
My beautiful midriff is its usual soft and tender brown skin self, accept now it runneth over. It unsubtly spills over my skirts and jeans while creating this round bubble through oversized tops and maxi dresses that might or might not make me “feel skinny”.
I take this body with me wherever I go. My stride and gait, my eyes and vision, my skin and scars, my words and smile. They are held by this body. How can I not love and honor it?
The sum of how I have betrayed my body through mistreatment and unkind words would make this post a thousands words longer.
I would look at myself, and say; “you are ugly”, not realising that the eyes that give me vision, the mouth and voice that give me vocal expression and the ears giving me the gift of sound; form part of my body.
My body did not freeze my tongue stopping my ability to speak. It did not block my ears so I couldn’t hear nor did it blur my vision decreasing my ability to see clearly.
My body held me and faithfully kept me through it all, as does yours when you speak unkindly to it or of it.
I am rounder, softer and pudgier, and in the words of Beyoncé “I’m a grown woman”. And this grown woman is changing and evolving along with the passage of time.
I am often told that I don’t look my age, so I should decrease my number years when asked about my age.
I don’t want to do that because if I say I am 25 at 35, I am denying 10 very valuable years of my life. That isn’t something to celebrate or admire.
I am 35 years old, my body is 35 years old my voice is 35 years old, my face is 35 years old, my SKIN is 35 years old (HELLO sum-bah-deh!). I refuse to deny a single year of my life!
Getting older is not a symbol of failure of living.
I acknowledge my life experiences, I pay homage not only to myself and The God who keeps me, but also those dear to my heart who will never make it to this age. To be “forever young” is to die to growth, it is to mourn yourself while you’re still living.
My value is not determined by the presence of cellulite on my body, extra skin on my back or hyper-pigmentation. Neither is yours.
Celebration of youth is beautiful and it is to be done, but the physical signs of youth dofade, regardless of how youthful our hearts are. You will have wrinkles and loose skin along with grey hair.
It devalues the integrity of humanity to look down on ageing and look up on youth. Both have their place and season in the cycle of life and both are glorious!
Young people should eagerly anticipate each next phase of their lives, while loving and embracing their current one. Instead of this irrational fear of the natural process of ageing.
Our bodies are so much kinder to us than we are to them. We should respect, protect and love our bodies, not narcissistically of course, but fiercely and proudly.
Defend and speak up for yourself when everything around you supposes that you are less. Even if that “everything” is your own voice.
You are in fact THAT awesome!
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” Psalm 90V12KJV.
It is early morning with a stealthy silence; the air feels gentle, swift and fresh. I take deep gentle breaths as the sun slowly unfurls, stretching out new memories and episodes for the day; which will, for a fragment in time be called Today, then Tomorrow, until it simply becomes “It was a long time ago”.
Today starts gently, giving me, I’d like to think, time to catch up with it; in this way I am not left behind like an overwhelmed animated character chasing after a run away scroll. Some days do runaway from me and catching up to them is near impossible. But not today.
Getting out of bed is arduous. Not because warm tentacles of sleep woo me with a promise of peace in lavish slumber. I am already awake and willing to crunch the carrot of the new day.
My anxious body needs to be convinced that all is well; we can get up and find treasure in the beauty of this new crisp and sweet day.
Light sweat trickles down from my breastbone and my night headwrap feels too tight on my head. The quiet breeze through the window feels like that first satisfactory bite of a craved juicy apple. I move slowly, from one corner of the bed to another, I stretch one leg then the other. My muscles resist, I think perhaps my arms will have better luck, so I slowly, gently move them this way and that stretching each one out. My hands over my shoulders. Slowly. My feet in the air grabbing my toes. Carefully. I face left while my knees go right. Gently.
I will not be abrupt or impatient with my body; it has absorbed much, has felt much and carried me through the most exquisite mornings in years gone by and the worst in more recent ones.
This is how I woo my anxious muscles out of tautness and apprehension. I have just come out of a challenging season. My carrier and vessel, this body I love and respect so much hasn’t yet caught up. I am patient till it knows that a season of strength and respite has begun as my God whispers in might; “Arise shine for your time has come and the glory of The Lord rises upon you”.
I whisper softly to my spirit that there is nothing to be afraid of in “today” anymore; this is a day of peace full of love and not fear. The old is gone and the new has come.
Through the dust particles and nature’s tattoos on the window; I observe the day gently rousing itself, no longer orange dark, but dark orange, I think how beautiful the world is when it hasn’t begun, naïve of the woes of the day that came before it.Sitting up , feeling less rigid, eyes still closed and still I softly speak to my body, my spirit; I say today is a beautiful day, today is a new day, today is the beginning of strength.