Pleated in love

Sunrise on the day we ushered Mzoxolo to heaven

I heard about my cousin’s death and screamed. My mind shouted at me, saying; “If you don’t get this out of you, it will never leave, it will eat your inner belly and grief will inhaliate you”.

I screamed and slid to the floor, it was hard gritty cement. I wasn’t aware of slipping down ,the painful map of indentations on my leg, brought the awareness. My mother, as gently as she could, told me Id’ lost my most beloved family member. It is the worst phone call I have ever received.

We’ve experienced much death in our family over the last three years or so. It’s been hard, but in the process, our hearts grew accustomed to it. Not an easy statement to make.

Our hearts grew accustomed to death

In the ritual of reminiscence and catching up, we often call people to memory as part of the conversation flow.  Mxolisi and are catching up. Our conversation is spotted with disbelief for the number of beloved family members we’ve lost. Mxolisi tells me there’s been so many deaths, that none of them feel real.

Mxolisi

It was in attending our uncle’s funeral that I saw and spent some much needed time with Mzoxolo, who is unashamedly my most favourite cousin. We laughed, made our grandmother cry with happy tears, took photos, made jokes. Each moment a treasure and privilege I would not experience again, this side of heaven.

I attended his funeral the following month.

The end of a funeral can either mean the beginning of the mourning period or a start of the healing process; it’s usually the start of healing for me. I waited for the inner trigger to click, for the wheels of healing to start moving.

Returning home to Cape Town; I unpacked my bag and put each item where it should be. I took my bus clothes off, washed the bus smell off me, made tea, to the soundtrack of calm hipster coffee shop music. In these menial tasks I listened to my inner belly. Attentive to the turn of the ignition, I was waiting for the “click” signal to my mind, body, spirit and soul, announcing start of healing. It didn’t come. So I gave in.

I sat on my yoga mat and cried fat chunky drops of tears. New fresh waves of sorrow assailed me.

You see, I keep thinking about that box going down that hole. I stared at it as it went down and willed the whole thing to be a bad dream or a terribly distasteful joke. I could not grasp that my cousin was inside that box.

Mzoxolo

My loving, kind, stubborn, hardworking, respectful, unifying cousin is now in a box. His eyes, his laughter, his thoughtfulness, his cheek, his love for his daughter. All the laughter we will never hear again, all the smiles we we will never see again. Reduced to a box in a dirt hole. My cousin Dolly asked a question to the wind when she heard about Mzoxolo’s death. “What is Unathi going to do?”.

I don’t know. I don’t know what I am going to do, but I know I want to be wholesome and restored from this grief. I want to talk about him without crying, as I am doing right now, without my heart turning sharp in my chest. It will happen. Not today, not tomorrow or next month. But it will happen.

I am putting this out here like this because I need to spill it out of me. My chest feels densely congested with grief, I haven’t learned how to put it away or unravel it nicely.

In the mornings I wake up shivering as if my bones are cold, for a few seconds I am confused. Then I remember. But this won’t last.

Waiting for Spring Time.

For the first time in a long while, I think I’m quite upset with my heavenly Father for this one. I wanna take this death and slap his heart with it as though He doesn’t love my cousin more than I ever could. As though He’s not the one who fashioned him in his mother’s womb and gave breath to his lungs.

The day I arrived at makazi’s homestead, I went to the four corner house where the church service was in process. There my makazi sat next to my grandmother. They both looked up when I came through the door and gently made room for me to sit between them. I was held by strong hands of love, two of the strongest women I know, outside of my mama held me. They don’t show affection easily these two, this is a moment branded in my heart forever.

My dear cousin.

When I think of that heartbreaking weekend. I drive that memory of your mama and our grandmother to the fore. I become a child pleated in love.

He rests in peace.

I think of laying you to rest; not in pain, not in hurt, not in mourning; but pleated in love. I will love you forever dear cousin. God is healing me, I haven’t arrived there just yet, but I know I will. Our family will heal from your devastating death. Perhaps one day when we mention you, there won’t be tears. You are in a much better place now, I look forward to seeing you in heaven when I am full of years and God calls me to heaven one day. Rest in peace Ntondo kamakazi wam.

Makazi:Maternal aunt.
Ntondo: nickname meaning last born.

Organic love on a warm plate.

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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.

Home garden
Picking corn for me in her vast garden a few minutes before I leave for Cape Town.

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.

mde
Phone photos never do justice in the night time.

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.

mde
Organic love on a warm plate

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.

dav
My aunt – She is stature, dignity, diligence and love.

 

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.**

I know why a caged bird sings – Maya Angelou


This morning I read this poem. I had always heard of it, but had never given it the attention it clearly deserves. It captured me and I now understand why it is a popular piece. After reading it, I read it two more times. Then my heart asked a question, do free birds know they have a song in their hearts? Every bird is born with a beat, a purpose, a passion, a song. Have I given myself permission to be distracted by other things, and by so doing, neglected my hearts longing to sing, swirl, soar twirl, dance be free, trully free. Shout the songs in my heart.

I am reminded of Maria in “The sound of music” musical. That girl had a lot of rules and regualtions she had to keep, none of them stopped her from running wild to the hills, spreading her arms and singing with nature “The hills are alive with the sound of music”. While her guardians were worrying about her apperent “strange ways” Maria was letting her heart sing freely, colouring everything with her music.
My hope and prayer for myself and anyone who reads this, is that we never wait for our wings to be clipped or our feet to be tied, before we release the melodies and harmonies that live in our hearts.

The free bird leaps
on the back of the win
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hillfor the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou

Finding HOME

Picture found on my home church website

CHURCH: My sanctuary, the one place I feel completey at home, wholly accepted and generously loved.#HOME

I read Helen Burn’s entry on the shelovesmagazine website and felt so thankful for the decision she made with her husband to be in full time ministry. I won’t really go into my story now, but for the sake of context I will tell you a little bit. After six years of rebelling with God and against his church, because I had been hurt/dissapointed quite badly by some of its members; I found myself desperately hungry not only for him, but also the community that comes with being part of his body. I started looking for Jesus everywhere! By that I mean, whenever I would arrive in any new neighbourhood, community or country, I would listen in my spirit for “something” that would tell me that “this” is my spiritual home. After six years away from “home” I needed family to sustain me, to build my faith up, to encourage me, to affirm me in my faith once more. I was looking for a home with leaders that did not have it all together nor pretended as though they did have it all together. They had to be leaders whose obedience to Jesus was part of their DNA, whose culture was all about pointing me to Jesus, not themselves or my imperfections.

It was an ache that I started to numb with a few hobbies. I visited health stores and immersed myself in making my own body butters and soothing fragrances, I bought a book (FREE DISC INSIDE!) on meditation, with soothing sounds and instructions on how to find inner peace. I started to practice yoga. Whenever I tried to pray it felt as though I was talking to myself, though to be fair at the time I was praying to that mystycal secret creature known as … “the universe”. I needed more, I was starving for so much more than what I had given myself in moving away from church.

Last week I was feeling very frustrated and emotionally knotted, so I “let rip” to Jesus cause I know he always listens regardless of whether I get goose bumps or not. Then a day after my little rant at Jesus, I received a phone call from a lady who serves in our pastoral care team. She basically told me she had a feeling while praying that I was not well in my spirit #selah. She proceeded to speak words of life and encouragement over me. By the time that phone call had finished, I felt ever so thankful for my church, I felt drenched in the love of my beautiful saviour.

This was what I was looking for a year and a half ago. Family. I also realised this; that phone call was part possible as a result of a decision my pastors made 4 years ago. They made a choice to move their family from their birth country to South Africa and start a church.

A church:

        where I would recommit my life to Jesus,
        where on a week I felt like puddling on the ground a friend called to encourage me up
        where I got water baptised
        where my best friends and I found each other
        Where I got confidence to sing again
        Where a friend sends me a note during a service to tell me she loves me, and I did need to hear it very badly that morning (Thanks Kile).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)

If you ever feel as though you have had enough of the people in your church for whatever reason. Please do not make a choice to leave church. Speak to Jesus about it instead. Take it from a girl whose been there. Nothing in your life will improve by moving away from God’s house. NOTHING. You might experience a hallow false sense of freedom to begin with. After that, its all empty pretty looking boxes packed with candy floss. Nothing nurturing or fertile enough to grow you. Stay close to the vine, always.