The Blessing

•March 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It was a small thing. All I did was to retrieve a couple of fallen teaspoons.

My youngest son and I had stopped at the mall between my dropping him home and then heading out for work. We were both stressed after his session at the orthodontist. No-one exactly likes things stuck in their mouths. Anyone who has ever had a mould taken of their teeth for a crown or orthodontic work will understand our traumatised states. Now include his Autism Spectrum Disorder to begin to grasp his increased sensitivity and panic, and my feeling plain awful for putting him through it all. I let him range up and down the mall, letting off his tension energy, while I queued to buy him a sausage roll and milkshake for lunch.

I had paid and was waiting for the sausage roll to be warmed when I heard the tinkle of falling cutlery. I saw an elderly woman bend to try and retrieve the teaspoons, but she was unable to reach them. I quickly moved over and picked up the spoons, just as her husband got up. I beat him to it. He thanked me in thickly accented English.

“Good look,” he declared with his very few words. “Good look…..Monday, Tuesday…Friday…” (numbering his fingers) ”…Good look.”

I smiled and said it was nothing, hurrying back to wait for the food. What on earth did he mean? At first I wondered if my rear end as I bent over was the “good look”. Not likely with my figure. Then I wondered if he was trying to tell me I was good looking every day of the week.

The words shifted, rearranging themselves in my mind, according to the accent. Good look…..Good luk….. Good luck! As the meaning clicked into place I felt the magic curling around my hearing, my receiving, my understanding. Good luck every day of the week! Good luck from the old folk of the old ways; a blessing thick with import like real cream in old, sweet recipes; a wish filled with talismans, old as memory and dripping in stories. Good luck every day of the week.

I felt it wrap around me and hold me. It meant so much.

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Four-leaved Magic!

•September 9, 2013 • 2 Comments

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Moss Garden

 Unrelated coincidence? Deliberate creation? I am well aware of the nuances, however, where’s there’s magic, there’s a story.

Back in February of this year, I had a car accident that was my fault, in which I wrote off both my car and the one I hit. At the time, the very first thing I focussed on was blessings and positive outcomes for all. The harsh lesson in it, for me, was that I had failed to grasp some of the finer details of insurance, and thus wasn’t covered for damage to a third party vehicle.

A month later, the letter from the other driver’s insurance company arrived, informing me that I was required to pay $36 400. To put that in perspective, at the current exchange rate, that equates to about R336 500. Back in South Africa in about 2002 we bought a three-bed-roomed house for R210 000. This sum of money, that I now owed an insurance company, amounted to the biggest financial debt I’d ever faced!

Every day, as I walked to and from the bus stop, I imagined streams of abundance and blessing over the situation. I schooled my mind, as far as I was able, away from the anxiety and inner conversations, and instead conjured images of overcoming obstacles and taming dragons. Finally, by the 19th of June (recorded in my journal), I realised it was time to choose a best possible outcome. I had exhausted the options. There was no way I could pay off that amount on my income, with my family commitments. I decided the best thing for all of us would be to have the whole thing waived – made to vanish. I could have opted for that earlier, but I wanted to be sure I was doing the right thing. Trying to wriggle out of a situation that was my fault, and avoid the consequences, was not my first choice. Seeking a waiver had to be my ONLY choice, a choice that meant that my family would not have to pay a price for my mistakes.

The next morning I followed some useful links kindly provided by my brother, and ended up speaking to a helpful young man at the Consumer Legal and Credit Centre.  I asked if it was worth pursuing a waiver. He requested extra information and said he’d phone back. Half an hour later, I was thrilled as he said not only that it was worth a try, but he’d pursue the waiver on my behalf!

I was entranced by the speed with which help had followed my choice of a specific outcome. On one of my walks I decided that when I found a four-leaf clover outside our home, on our side of the footpath, I’d know it heralded good news. Four-leaf clovers have been my symbol of “abundance-beyond-the-expected” for over twenty years, now. What is more, it was a safe option. I had found a four-leaf clover on the opposite side of the footpath, last year, so I knew it wasn’t an impossible sign. (My mother shakes her head and mutters about fairy blood every time I find yet another four-leaf clover – or several at a time)

The days went by. The clover flourished (along with the other weeds) and, despite keeping a look-out,  there wasn’t a single four-leafer to be found. Eventually, my husband and his friend did some work on the garden, and when I arrived home the clover was gone. I bought a second-hand car with the money I got back after doing my tax return, and the days drifted on into spring.

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The four-leaf Oxalis on Thursday 5th September 2013, tender-green and new.

Then, last Thursday morning I happened to check my little moss garden to see if it needed water. Oxalis (sorrel) has grown along with other seeds that came with the moss I’d collected at the side of the house – ordinary three-leaved Oxalis – except – one had grown a fourth leaf! I was astounded. Four-leafed Oxalis growing on a three-leaved plant is far less common than finding four-leaf clovers. (Please note, this is not to be confused with the Oxalis Tetrafolia which naturally grows four leaves.) I went off to an appointment, and when I returned home the fourth leaf seemed a little larger, closer to the size of the other three leaves on that stalk.

The telephone rang. It was my knight in shining armour from the Consumer Credit and Legal Centre.  He was the bearer of good news, he told me. Both the insurance company and the collection house had agreed not to pursue the matter of the money I owed. We were home and dry!

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tender green

Now the deeper green of maturity

It’s Simple

•August 24, 2013 • 1 Comment

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Regardless of what is, or isn’t, happening in the rest of the world, the magnolias are looking beautiful. No matter what challenges the natural world faces, nature keeps on doing what it does until the moment it can no longer, and then it does something new, or different, or it turns a page in history.

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No matter what may be happening in any part of the world, I still have my part to play in blooming and learning, growing spiritually and being all that I am meant to be.

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Three times three petals in pristine white tell me it’s simple: don’t focus on all the apparent “impossibilities”, just focus on being what you are, fully and completely.

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That is the best gift anyone can give to the world.

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shades of the sea!

•August 3, 2013 • 2 Comments

My son reviewed my first self-published book, which is available for sale on Amazon.com and CreateSpace

I originally announced the book here: What’s your Favourite Colour?

shades of the sea!.

The Magic Flute

•July 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

1-DSCF1207This morning the strains of a flute or recorder drifted up from somewhere outside, and tugged my sleeve, so I wandered down to investigate. I followed the occasional phrases, interrupted now and then with restarts, or shifts to other snatches of melody. A voice joined in singing along from time to time.

Under the eucalypts on the far side of the park, a man stood, flute in hand. A woman, most likely his wife and also the singer, was picking dandelions or roots of some sort– something the rest of us disregarded, but she recognised as good and useful. I passed them and found myself a place in the sun, leaning against a smooth tree trunk, and let his beautiful notes weave around me.

And that was it: a space framed by music, in which so much peace and beauty dwelt. The sun warmed away the winter chill from a sky adorned with a few high, fair-weather clouds. A gentle breeze stirred the eucalyptus leaves and twirled around the children playing on the playground equipment, mingling with their laughter. Down on the oval a father sprinted with his daughter and other children kicked balls or ran races, some serious, some pounding turf for the joy of it. Parents took dogs and children for walks nearby, and further away someone else threw a ball for an exuberant mutt. Noisy Miners tumbled and squabbled, landing momentarily right in front of a surprised toddler sitting on the running tracks, and then flying off again.

The flautist continued playing after his wife had gone, met by a little girl running from the playground equipment. Is this not the peace and tranquillity we all long for? What a gift this man gave us, yet I alone stopped to listen, to enter into the weaving of the dream. I could not give him anything else in return, just my listening.

Eventually I wandered over to thank him and he greeted me with a beaming smile and hearty “hello”.

“China,” he said, proudly showing me his flute – bamboo – which explained the woodiness of its tone, and why I hadn’t been able to distinguish whether I was hearing a flute or recorder at first.

He had no English but tried to tell me about the instrument anyway, clearly delighted by my interest. I thanked him again, although I couldn’t explain that I was thanking him not just for the music, but for the weaving of a vision of paradise across the road from my front door.

What’s your favourite colour?

•June 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

22Sots

When we lived in Cape Town for a year and a bit, prior to moving to Sydney, my two younger sons were at that phase of life when they tortured me by demanding to know what my favourite colour was. I usually answered green, and sometimes blue. In the end I settled for revenge. I decided my favourite colour was the sea.

“Oh, you mean blue,” they’d answer.

“No,” I’d respond. “Today the sea isn’t blue, it’s grey and sometimes it’s green…”

In time, with my many walks along the beach and time spent sitting on the rocks in contemplation, the answer became a poem. Once we had settled in Australia I hunted through my photographs and placed them together with the poem into a PowerPoint presentation, which I then printed out and popped into a folder.

There is a subtext that follows the life of this little book. Our move to Cape Town following the sale of our house in Johannesburg was confounded by an inability to obtain bridging finance and a six-month wait for the money to come through. Those six months were desperately difficult as my nursing salary was far less than I’d earned in IT. We struggled to feed ourselves. Those days on the rocks or beach absorbing the colours of the ocean were, for me the peaceful battleground as I learned not to panic and to trust my ability to steer my family through crisis.

Eventually the money from the sale of the house came through, every debt was paid and we planned our move to Sydney. The initial putting together of the poem into PowerPoint was during our time of settling in to a new country and a new life. Again, the budget seemed impossibly tight at times, and I dreamt of the possibility of making a few pennies from my writing. I entered the poem into the Eastwood/Hills Annual Literary Competition and it received a Commended.

This year, once again we face a crisis following the car accident in February and the possibility of bankruptcy following on from that. The poem and photographs have become my learning curve and initiation into the world of self-publishing. This poem not only answers the question my sons asked, “what you’re favourite colour?”, it is also a subtext of life – it’s mornings and evenings, blue skies and stormy days, and all of it is beautiful. All of it is my favourite life.

The book is available via CreateSpace: Shades of the Sea or on amazon.com.

BookCoverPreview.do

The hope that is in me

•May 11, 2013 • 2 Comments

warrior

This last week I had one of those crazy-assed moments that let me know, without doubt, that my life has turned upside-down. No – this is not a reference to seven years spent Down Under, as moving from South Africa isn’t a hemispheric shift. Nor is it a reference to the general chaos of living – five of us – on my nurse’s salary and minus a car since the accident in February. Instead it’s a matter of how I live.

One of my nursing colleagues, a very dear soul, wanted to know if I was a Christian. I told her no, not any more, and explained why.  As we chatted it became clear that the reason she asked was due to what she knows of my circumstances and her experience of working with me. I was reminded of a Bible verse: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15. (NIV)

I asked my colleague directly, “is it because you think I could only live this way if I were a Christian?”

And she answered simply: “yes.”

In all my years as a Christian, twenty-five of them, deeply committed, steeped in prayer, no-one ever asked me to explain the “hope that is in me”.

So I told her how leaving the church wasn’t easy, because I knew it would hurt the folk there who loved me, and I loved them. I told her how, if I continued to follow the Christian way of thinking, believing that my own dear father would be condemned to hell wasn’t something I could maintain. If I were God, I wouldn’t condemn him. How could I be more merciful than God? And I explained that I didn’t believe it was just to deny two people who love each other the right to express that because they were the same gender. God, if this God exists, ought to know better than anyone, why it is that they love each other. With much deep pondering and searching, yes, and prayer, my conscience would no longer allow me to be a Christian, and so I left.

And in leaving, I searched my soul long and hard and found that my values left with me. I kept them all. In leaving, I flung wide the gates to let the rest of the world into my life (no longer “them”, the non-Christians and “us”, the Christians) and I began to truly live.

Now I will give an account of the hope that is in me: I have choices to make. Every moment of the day, every situation that arises, I can choose whether I want to walk as someone overwhelmed and victimised or walk as the hero of my story. There are so many other heroes out there. Some we hear of, many we don’t.

Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Man’s Search for Meaning)

I do this my way, as an imaginative person. I have long puzzled over the way in which I consistently identify with particular character types in fantasy stories. So I live my life out on two levels: the here-and-now concrete reality that everyone can see and the mythological parallel that I can see – and perhaps those who understand story.

Much of my life has been the journey of the young initiate to the place of learning – the college or temple that trains the archetypes – the wizards, the warriors, the healers, the intellectuals and so forth. That path alone has a series of crises to be contended with, lessons to learn, so by the time the initiate arrives at the place of learning there is already a healthy body of practical knowledge to be organised and shaped. However, in no good story does the student ever get to remain at the wondrous place of learning for long. Instead, the trainee is bundled out into the wild again for challenges greater than ever before. To you it might look like I have a tight budget or an ill family member, or an aching back, but to me I have monsters to fight, folk to rescue, defend or heal, and I might acquire battle wounds on the way.

And that, my friends, is the hope that is in me. I am a hero on a journey. The challenges demand ever more of me, and I learn and grow from them. The more I remember who I am in my mythical world – the sort of warrior-druid I want to be – the more I am able to bring that aspect of myself into my daily life and live the reality. It is an incredibly powerful life force magic I wield.

 
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