Monthly Archives: March 2013

Heaven forbid



When there’s disappointment

When there’s sadness

When hopes are dashed

When it looks like a step backwards

When trust is broken

When help is rejected

When independence trumps community

Heaven forbid we try to fix, solve or rescue

Heaven forbid we see a person as a project

Heaven forbid we want complex situations buttoned up, resolved

Heaven forbid we attach our significance to the change we see in those we walk alongside

Forgive me. When even a drop of that attitude has entered in.

I want to see with your eyes.

Love and care as seeds sown

The outcome of which will come to bear

one day.

The outcome of which is not ours to see

or to claim.

Seeds sown, freely given

without dictating the fruit.

Seeds sown, generously released.

Generosity is not itself if it expects a return.

And if seeds are dug up or stolen

more can be sown

without resenting the loss of those gone before.

Or maybe no seed is ever lost

just hidden, latent.

One day it may produce fruit

but we may never see it

and must come to peace with that

and trust

life is a long journey

and just now we don’t see the big picture.

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time.

But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

– An Australian Aboriginal woman when approached by someone wanting to work with disenfranchised people, Queensland, 1970s

While I was writing this poem I was reminded of this post by a friend, you might also enjoy it…

minding the gap

by Most Hopeful

We confess, O God, that we like to see things solved.
We confess, O God, that we bear your name and insist on solving.

We admit, O God, that we are called to be the ones who tell the truth

of all the mess and pain and brokenness in the world

on this side of kingdom come.

We admit, O God, that we are called to be the ones who tell the truth

of all the redemption and justice and beauty already in the world now

and fully in the world on the other side of kingdom come.

We ask, O God, that you would give us the courage to tell the truth

and to be the people who stand in the middle of the tragic gap

knowing that while the world does not go well,

kingdom is in our midst, and kingdom comes.

We ask, O God, that you would make us brave enough to stand

unsolved, unfixed, in the middle of the brokenness and the beauty

honestly declaring both.


Pine Tree Dr.

The rhythms of our breath intertwined


manenberg baby edited

He runs up to me

Arms flung wide and high

International toddler language

For ‘pick me up’

Big smile, twinkling eyes

Like he knows me

But he doesn’t

But now he does, I guess

At ease on my hip

He grins to welcome other strangers

During the singing

He’s right at the front

Stomping, jumping, clapping

I catch his eye and wave

He rushes over

Arms up, to be lifted again

Fiddles with my thumb for ages

As if it’s a thing of great interest

The yawns

Rubs his eyes

And yawns again

It’s late for a little boy

I shift him in my arms

So he can rest his head against my chest

He does so with no resistance

And in just a few breaths

He’s falling asleep

His grip on my arm loosening

Till his hangs limp over mine

Sleeping peacefully

Despite the music

Pumped out at high volume

I slowly back away from the noise

His mother assured of his whereabouts

I find a quiet spot

A room reserved for prayer.

I’m here to pray for Manenberg

But as the rhythms of our breath intertwine

I find myself praying for this precious life in my arms

Sleeping on me for over an hour

His full weight slumped against mine

Manenberg may be full of fear

He seems to have none

Manenberg may be short on trust

He seems to have plenty

Long dark eyelashes

Cute button nose

Beautifully formed mouth

Entirely serene

Totally trusting

His short dark hair

Spiralling out from the crown of his head

Like a tiny tornado

Watch out Manenberg

There’s power inside

Inside this fearless lover of people

This physical representation of ‘peace in Manenberg’

This boy will grow

To be a culture changer

A city shaker

A nation shaper.

He will be a city on a hill

A light on a stand

A man others will look to.

He will be a door opener

Opening doors of light and hope

And inviting others to step in.

He will blow with the breath of God

Down these streets

Blowing away the dust and dirt

Clearing the way

Bringing refreshing

And life.

His shield of faith will be huge

Towering above his own body.

Faith that sees the bigger picture

Faith to see

The good stuff God’s up to

In the invisible places

Faith to see

Past the hopelessness and anger

On the streets.

While I’m here to pray for Manenberg

I find myself praying for this precious life in my arms

But in praying for him

I’m praying for the people and places

He will impact in his life.

As I relish the calm

Brought by his trusting body

melted into mine

I also think of the times

I’ve felt God invite me

To rest in Him

To rest on Him.

The times I’ve imagined myself

Like a small child

Resting my head on his chest

His arms around my body

My breath in time with his

Hearing his heartbeat

And knowing his peace

His comfort, His safety.

Thanking God for this physical picture

Of His love

Of His offer

Open to all.


All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013



Photo credit:

“Life is made of contrasts, that’s what gives it colour”

This was the phrase given as a starting point in our creative writing group at the weekend.

I wrote the first poem and my friend Dale Taylor wrote the second.

A home, made of cardboard and dirty blankets, a sooty spot for the blackened kettle

Big hugs

A warm, genuine welcome.

Smart restaurant, sea view, white tablecloths, delicious but expensive fish

A nod of the head

A stiff, polite, required welcome.

A conversation with a friend at the traffic lights

Selling his handmade jewellery

Snippets of his life: the pitfalls, the disappointments, the hopes.

A conversation at a party

wine glass in hand, taking in the view

Light superficial conversation: A new car or house, ‘that’s a pretty dress’, blinkered

This is Cape Town life.

Contrasting lives

Contrasting temperature of relationships

Contrasting depth of conversation


And colour


The regal mountain and the Cape flats.

The people who live on the mountain,

And the people who live on the flats.

Massive houses, empty part of the year;

Corrugated iron huts, brimming with people.

People behind security systems,

People living in community.


South Africa has the largest inequality quotient in the world.

Apparently the demographics and proportions of income levels in Cape Town pretty much reflect that of the world as a whole. We have the privilege of seeing the real situation. Others aren’t exposed to the poverty that exists and therefore can be lulled into a false sense of security and comfort. I like this city of contrasts, of colour. It’s real.



Have a listen to this song: Breathe by Jennifer Eaves

Beautiful voice and lyrics

heard at a chilled open air gig

in the golden light of early evening

It says something of how I feel about Cape Town.

This song asks if we have the courage to truly know the people we meet
if we are ‘man enough’ to really see and really know
the people, the community we come across in daily life.
I want to choose that, to know and be known.
Not to be afraid of engaging with strangers
In this city I find myself being conscious of breathing in
drawing in the fresh air and life
It’s a city of people broken down
and yet people of courage and love
of disappointment and of hope
of beauty and of sweat and dust
A city of creatives and dreamers.
And I call it home.
My home is
where the sun meets the morning sea
My home is
where the artist paints and the poet is free
My home is
where the earth cries for unity
Do have a listen to all of Jennifer Eaves’ tracks and share them with others.




As I get to know them,
As I’m given the privilege
of the title ‘friend’,
I see them.
I see the leaders in this community,
This group of friends
who live on the streets
near my home.
I see the carers, the protectors
I see those who share what little they have
I see those who sacrifice their safety for their friends
I see much to respect and much to love
I see less difference between us
And more in common.

Stopping to chat
Sharing news, a joke, a prayer, a crossword.

As I spend time with them
They see me too
They appreciate my friendship
more than what I could give them
And they very rarely ask for anything.

Sometimes I’m listening to their hearts
through slurred words
Which before would have been all I’d hear
But I can understand why they sometimes choose that
There’s much to want to escape from
Life is harsh, fragile, vulnerable.
Some of them wonder what there is to live for.
After such abuse, rejection and unkindness
I might question the worth of my life too.

Two months in a prison cell
wrongly accused of stealing two hammers
would have been much longer
if family hadn’t stepped in.
Beaten and stabbed by four men
for protecting his friends.
His face kicked in, jaw broken
suspected of eating someone else’s hamburger.
Her face smashed against a mirror
by her husband
telling her she’s ugly.
Raped by family members.
Daily disrespect from people
who don’t see them
Don’t see beyond
the clothes and the smell.

And yet these friends of mine
are anything but hard hearted.
They love deeply
Looking out for each other.
Firey relationships
but underneath
deep commitment and love.

They greet me
with warmth, big hugs, smiles and laughter
And when life hits a blow
they honour me
by sharing their tears also.

When I started on this journey a year ago
Meeting new people at my church’s weekly community dinners

Someone told me to stop thinking about ‘us and them’

and instead think about what you would do for a friend.

I wasn’t sure that would be so easy

And yet that’s just how it’s turned out. Amazingly.

Back then

I was nervous and afraid

Afraid of getting involved
Afraid of being overwhelmed
Afraid of getting it wrong
Would it require too much of me?
Would I let them down?
Would they ask for more than I can give?
What would it cost?

But as I chose to trust God with their journey

and offer genuine friendship rather than rescuing,

As I realised I won’t get it right every time

and that that’s ok

as I walk this journey in community with my church family,

As I chose that path

and just stepped into it rather than trying to figure it out first,

I realised it costs nothing
And yet everything.

Simple acts of kindness
Which cost me little
Just time, love, respect, genuine friendship
Things many people think that they don’t have to spare
Simple acts of kindness
Which seem to speak volumes to them
Seem to touch them deeply.
Not trying to fix their lives
I realise that’s not my responsibility
That’s up to God and them together
But just sitting with them,
visiting them in hospital,
listening to their stories, their lives, their hearts.
Simple acts of kindness
A very joyful and light burden.

And sometimes it’s hard
Sometimes there’s disappointment
When someone you’ve loved and invested in
Makes choices not to love themselves
That’s when choosing to continue to love and show grace,
Choosing to trust God with their journey,
Choosing not to fix or rescue,
That’s when those choices are hardest and most important.

When I used to take food
or something to give them
It often felt awkward
A barrier and imbalance introduced between us.
So now I usually just take myself
That’s what they really appreciate.

Just offering myself
Believing that’s enough
Just that is more impactful than I thought
Nothing and yet everything.

Love softens and changes people
Not giving our own love, which would run us dry
But channelling God’s love,
always replenished and running over,
Always enough.
If we choose to continue to receive it ourselves.
Love that gives people hope
Motivates them towards positive choices
Gives them reason to learn to love themselves.


All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013