Synthesis


Together

Stronger than before

Each confident and certain of the bond that binds us

Needing everything and nothing from the other.

A unit

Distance does not alter the function we perform.

Dependent and independent

Relying on each other’s strengths,

Compensating for each other’s weakness.

Complete

Separate and inseparable

Looking forward to being together

without expectation,

Without anxiety

Nothing hidden.

Bringing everything we are

And loving everything we find

Partners.

Trusting

In the layered light of our love,

In the comfort of the worn path behind,

In our own capacity to move beyond the obstacles

Thankful:

To Him for favouring us with Faith

To each other for weathering the storms

that brought us here

To ourselves for striving for what’s possible

Satisfied:

Brimming with contentment for what is

Savouring the gift we have

Right Now

The only moment of Life

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Life Drama


How fond we are

of our  tragic tales-

trilogies or

life long melodrama.

Not in Reality

with what simply is

But trapped

in the swirling emotion

of our character.

Now the Villain

strikes again

with sharp remarks.

Wounded.

I desperately defend

my View : my Position

my Pride : my Identity.

I am at once

Warrior and Victim.

Unable to alter

the mechanics of my reaction

I live Bitter Pain-

my Speaking,

hostile rapid fire

or wailing complaint.

Unimaginable

no-

Unwilling to Be

Tranquil.

A mirror glimpsed.

Reflection?

Revelation:

I am the author

of this Saga.

My speaking

makes it so.

The world is

simply

what it is…

no should or shouldn’t be.

A perfect space

for Choice:

Anger or Love?

Hate or Harmony?

Before we Remember


One of the things I love about working with people from other parts of the world, is that I get to introduce them to my beautiful city. I love that I can show them aspects of Cape Town they don’t usually get to see and share a perspective they may otherwise miss. So I was thrilled last week when my students wanted to visit the District Six Museum. Armed with my phone camera we set out to explore an interesting bit of Cape Town’s past…

Now you may think that museums are boring but – although only 359 years old – Cape Town is a city with a history that is simultaneously rich, cruel and inspiring. And the District Six Museum captures that. With Table Mountain forming a secure backdrop, the open stage stretches all the way to the Cape Flats where the drama continues today.

The Museum fascinates people who visit it because it tells the story of how a government physically destroyed the homes of thousands of people under a policy of segregation during the Apartheid era. Bulldozers razed hovels, houses, flats, neighbourhoods to the ground. Families were split, communities broken and today the gaping emptiness remains at the foot of the mountain, while the Cape Flats – where those evicted were moved- is a daily scene of lost battles against drugs, alcoholism, unemployment and crime.

Horrible as it sounds, we love these kinds of stories. We want to understand how we came to be as we are, or explain how others made us this way. This museum was built to tell this story. The curator, Noor Ebrahim, regularly retells an account of his racing pigeons who, after months on the Cape Flats still flew ‘home’ to District Six and perched in front of the Moravian Church every time he set them free. For most visitors, whether you read it or hear it, it’s a tear jerker.

But there are some surprising elements of the museum that may be glossed over or even missed. That the museum tells a tragic tale is only one interpretation: There are portrait flags that fly in the museum celebrating its heroes: philanthropist Dr Abdurahman, activist Cissie Gool, poet and writer Richard Rievs, ballet dancer Johaar Mosaval, penny whistler Robert Sithole and so many others. They are not just famous people who once lived in District Six. They are extraordinary in that they did not allow the destruction of their homes to become the destruction of their lives.

They chose to use the experience of eviction and discrimination to forward their own contribution to the world. It is they who make the visit a life lesson. Their lives demand that we examine our own narrative and quit retelling the sad stories that keep us stuck.

Given, a walk down memory lane can bring on a bout of nostalgia, a longing for the good old days when the worst gangsters only had fist fights and children played in the streets with wooden pegs, tin cans and chalked blocks with no fear of being hit by stray bullets. But that only serves to disconnect from right now. On the other hand, remembering can evoke sadness, anger or hatred…that provokes blaming and revives long held grudges. Neither reaction is empowering.

Maybe there is something to consider about memory itself, as Roderick Sauls suggests in his “memory room” exhibit in the museum.

All the objects on display are only vaguely recognisable, as if  excavated from limestone when they’ve actually been dredged up from a chalky memory. Some items stick out clearly enough, but others require a fair amount of guess work to determine what they are…the tricks our memory plays as we remember and create what we see in our mind’s blurry eye.

How much of what we remember is what actually happened? And how much of it is simply our own reason for not taking up the challenges life presents and playing fullout to be productive, successful or just plain happy?  We don’t have to forget the history, but before we remember, let’s choose whether we are going to tell it as a story that inspires us or one that keeps us stuck.

Poem: Making Peace


My thoughts are a jumble

of disjointed affirmations and complaints.

As I try to untangle the

incoherent threads

and weave a cord

that I can hold out to you,

I realise

My suppressed feelings

inhibit my expression

and I grin.

In straining to keep them hidden

as I say my say,

the pretense is more obvious than ever

And we remain knotted

in our misunderstanding.

Only when they lay naked before you

and I am humbly unashamed,

will you hear what I say

and what I mean

and love me still.

3WW Three Word Wednesday

I’ve been thinking about the best way to reconcile with people close to us without being hurtful but also being truthful, hence the theme of the poem. However, the above poem is also written in response to prompts generated on the blog, Three Word Wednesday, an “online writers collective…to stretch your muse”. Three words are posted each Wednesday and poets, writers and word lovers are challenged to use them in a single piece. I loved what I found linked to this site and thought I’d give it a try…really loads of fun if words are your thing! This week’s words are jumble, grin, naked…find them in the poem above.

Check it out here www.threewordwednesday.com

The Woman behind the Veil…


This painting, The Woman behind the Veil,  is one of my favourites. Many Muslims and others, aren’t always sure whether the “veil” refers to the face covering  or the head covering. In this painting it is both. The ink and bleach rendition is inspired by the controversy that the veil has caused in the world of late. In France the veil is banned in public and in Spain there is a debate about  whether to follow suit. This debate extends from government caucus groups to university classrooms but, interestingly enough, does not include women who veil…what value could they possibly add to the discussion?

But the painting is titled The Woman behind the Veil. Despite the  intrigue, the mystique and the controversy created by the veil, it’s the woman that I want to focus on.

So often, veiled women are boxed by men and other women in so many different ways. Generally she is seen as oppressed,  inhibited, restricted…probably by her father or husband. To many, she is not seen as very intelligent, but she can probably cook well. She must be very conservative and unimaginative – why else does she resist fashion trends? And she’s probably subservient, voiceless and weak…or she would “free”  herself, surely.  You don’t see her strutting her stuff on the beach or the catwalk so she can’t have great self esteem. For Muslim women who don’t wear the veil, she is often regarded as holier-than-thou, righteous.

Although this is changing very slowly, as we enjoy an age of televised veiled women marching for freedom in Palestine, protesting in Tahrir Square and speaking from university podiums, I still find that there are many people who avoid eye-contact with veiled women in the streets – especially those dressed in black- in the same way that they avoid really seeing disabled people, beggars and the homeless. As if there is something alien about them. What is it about them that begs invisibility?

What is it we don’t want to see?

And if we got beyond our tainted glasses, gave up our assumptions and got curious, what would we ask The Woman behind the Veil? It’s her I’m interested in. Aren’t you?

What does she do? What is she passionate about? What makes her laugh? What does her heart yearn for? Where has she travelled? What does she dream of? What cause does she fiercely champion? Who does she vote for? What are her fears? Who are her friends? Why does she wear the veil? There’s so much to be curious about…And what of the world she’s looking out at?  How does she see it?

At a recent conference I attended, Fadil Soloman, a well known interfaith facilitator, posed these questions in a different way through a visual comparison.

            

What if we looked at veiled Muslim women as we look at the most honoured of  women in Christianity…would that make a difference? Would we see them as women who love God, women who serve their communities, women who change the world?