Friday, March 26, 2010


Sometimes packing makes me nauseous. I think it might be all that bending and reaching. I feel light headed and sick to my stomache. It happens every time. I think I was just created to travel light.

When one packs you always have to make decisions. What to keep, and what to discard. I get so exhausted with it all that I have an urge to throw most things away. If I even try Georgia digs them all out again. No black bag is safe from her - every tossed item is suddenly a treasure!

There is of cause the joy contained in rediscovered things. I can get caught up in reading fascinating stories on old newspapers, pausing midway as I wrap a cup, a vase. An item of clothing, dug out from a forgotten suitcase brings pleasure for a day.... A favourite book is flipped through. But really, I know , I was created to travel light.

As a young woman I went through a stage when I hitch hiked a lot. I loved it. The freedom , standing like a cactus on a desert of tar, my arm stuck out, thumb pointing heavenward. I loved the feel of my canvas rugsack between my ankles, everything that mattered to me contained therein. There is no doubt that there was a risk involved ( my sister hitch hiked only once, and was nearly killed in a head on collision). But I did it for years, addicted to that one stopped car, getting in or out, with no commitment, no debt to be payed. I was kept safe, that I acknowledge, and am grateful.

I remember holding a warm puppy on my lap once, as the old man who picked me up wound his way through the Ciskei hills. There was a crazy ride with two funny Scots ladies, through the aloes landscape around Grahamstown, and I sat on a bagpipe by mistake on the backseat. I leapt from moving cars at stop streets twice, instinct telling me that that would be best, and traveled from the sleepy town of Port Alfred in an aeroplane car at 210km an hour to PE. One day I just stopped, got out a car and knew it was my last ride. I started to pick up baggage after that.

But not much. Even when we returned from England we arrived  back to SA with two backpacks and one baby on the hip and another in my belly.  Now, in my forties I carry a lot with me. L and I have shed much over the years. But we, tortoise like, have to carry a home with us. And all this stuff is home - all this baggage.

In psychological terms I suppose the word baggage has a negative connotation. But lately I would disagree with that. It makes us who we are. A friend once told me that I rearrange my  same old things in a different way in every home she has known me in - and there have been many. It sets me to thinking. All this stuff we carry, good and bad, beautiful and not so, is who we are, metamorphosizing through the years.

I am still dodging the packing. I have had many kind offers of help. We, as a family are picking our way through our stuff, slowly. Mostly I am day dreaming about our destination - the place we will be when all this is done. How I will place a chair, a quilt, a row of carved wooden animals.

I am wishing I could be picked up suddenly, like a car swishing passed and pulling over onto the gravel, some stones crunching under my shoes as I run towards a door being opened, a friendly face behind the wheel, and there I go, moving  effortlessly on.

In Matthew  6:19, it says: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." So maybe I'm on the right track...

Friday, March 19, 2010

A moving experience

We are moving. Moving is something we do. Often. The mere thought of the labour involved makes me feel nauseous and dizzy, but I know that it too will pass, and we have already packed ten boxes. Those who know us well will not be surprised. The great thing is, we are only moving five kilometers, up the road to Joubertina.

I have moved so often that it does not take long for a house to become a home to us. We have stayed in such an assortment of dwellings, and I loved them all, in different ways. The incredible thing is, they were all beautiful, and we were blessed to have lived in them, for different reasons.

My parents lived in the same house for thirty years, and I lived with them for my whole life, until I moved out. But, in my adult life I have moved about 50 times! Sometimes across continents, sometimes cities, towns, around the corner, next door. I don't know why it has been like that - it just has.
So, we are doing it again...

Looking back I am so grateful for all the homes. There were the seaside homes, with the waves lapping at the bottom of our road, a mere 2 minutes walk away. There was the country home, with a wide verandah with a mountain view spread out before us. A favourite was the lagoon house, with a panhandle down to the lagoons edge, visited by pink flamingoes, and me, quite alone, swimming out silently amongst the ducks.

Long ago there were the England houses, double glazed, cosy with coal fires, snow on the road outside the cold stone walls. There was the semi in Observatory which God chose for me to be in when my first husband left, an unlikely haven, but a shelter it was, at the time. I remember a suburban house with fondness, my children little, L and I and them becoming a family there.

A swimming pool, or some watering hole, featured in most of the recent homes, because I love water. There has been no water here in the Langkloof. A drought stricken place lately. Nevertheless, there has been living water here, in a very real way for us. And, of cause there is always the Kouga, and the rock pools, and the big blue dam up in the Hoek.

But now we are moving to town. This time there is definitely only one reason why. It is because we really believe that God wants us to go. There is work waiting there that needs to be done. Children that need to know that He loves them. And more than that - we want to go.

So, goodbye, goodbye dear outside room, beneath the beloved Syringa Tree. Goodbye the open view out from our bedroom window, down the orchard valley of Twee Riviere, and up the steep mountains of the Tsitsikamma. Goodbye Louis sheep strolling through our land, morning and evening, the shepherd cries, the little bleating lambs. Good bye the vegetable garden, so overgrown now - thank you for an abundant crop - we ate well. Goodbye the dirt road, the drunken wanderings and voices passing by. We said we would live in this house for a year , and wait, and see what God wanted us to do, here in the Langkloof. It will be exactly a year.I will miss all we leave behind, like always.

But this life, it seems,is not just to be lived out here, on this platform of grass, with the large trees behind us, the open valley stretched out before us. We, L and I, have accumulated many different skills in our great and motley careers. If God can use them, then we are so excited.

So we go to a ground floor flat in the school hostel. At this point it is not all clear. Does God ever reveal all His plans at once? Of cause not. We are sad, but happy too. The friends will remain. We are not going far.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Testing testing

It's raining in the Langkloof. The farmers say it came just in time. It has been a long soaking rain. I saw a teacher or two standing out in the school quad, faces and hands turned up, standing still, receiving blessings. I myself absorbed it, that first day, the hem of my jeans soaking it up like blotting paper.

I looked out over the orchards of Twee Riviere and watched the trees, leaves upturned, apples glossy as the water washed over them. The spinach in my garden grew overnight. I had stopped watering my garden in the drought, conserving water. Its incredible, I thought, looking over their green leaves, what water can do.
I still need my garden, we need the food it supplies to us. The rain felt like mercy. Mercy raining down.

Today it rains again - and tests are being written. L and I have been composing tests for weeks, preparing children to write tests, and now finally marking tests. I have been wondering about the whole business, while I march my drama classes up and down to the hall, to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Their little dramas are to be tested too.

My children haven't written many tests in their lives. Homeschoolers don't do much testing. Who needs the pressure? And anyway, I've often thought that it isn't really the best way to learn. There is a secret hidden in it all, I thought, and the rain brought me some kind of answer.

To me this whole life we live seems to be some kind of training ground. We have certainly been tested aplenty. Just this morning I read in the Word
  • ' Now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuiness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.'

Tests are necessary for some reason. Thats all I know. My children are bowed down by them, giving up play time to learn, sweating through the writing of them, anxious about their results. Proud when they do well, upset when they do not.

I received a distressed sms from a dear friend. They are being brought to breaking point - but they are not yet broken. They ask for prayer. Help during the testing, help to endure the testing....

I see them, and myself also, like a whole lot of apples. hanging onto those tree branches in the orchards. Hanging on for the rain, stretched to the limit of our endurance sometimes, using up all our resources.

Being tested. Its no good being tired of them, these tests. No good not wanting to participate. There is no choice, they just keep on coming, and we cling on, waiting for the rain. And then it comes, and it is all over, cooling, refreshing, saving.

Until the next time...
At the time of writing my father and my sister's only child are both very sick. We heard that a dear nanny is now very ill with THAT virus...
More dreaded tests come upon us.
I ask those of you who practise the presence of God, and who will pray for us to please do so.
Mercy, mercy, all around.