Category Archives: life in cape town

I don’t care what the weatherman says

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Driving through town

windscreen wipers on full pelt

hardly keeping up with the pouring rain.

Loud swing music in my car.

“I don’t care what the weatherman says,

when the weatherman says it’s raining,

you’ll never hear me complaining,

I’m sure the sun will shine.”

The traffic lights multiply a myriad times in the wet road

sparkling like Christmas tree lights.

My concentration is keen

to see clearly

to stop when I must stop

and go when I must go,

but to avoid those without cars

rushing across the road,

clasping soggy newspaper

in a futile attempt to cover their heads,

blinkering themselves inadvertently to the oncoming traffic.

Maybe they care what the weatherman says more than I do.

 

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The gentle invitation

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Dappled sunlight

falling on my arm,

gentle breeze,

a glimpse of the mountain,

through glowing branches.

Birds cheerfully chirping in the trees,

the sound of water splashing in a fountain,

sun shining through the vine leaves above me

highlight the firey edges of autumn.

The smell of coffee and baking.

Here, in my happy place,

I tell you how I feel,

I choose honesty

over a stiff upper lip.

As I give up certain foods

I realise how much I turned to them for comfort.

I realise I’m stiff necked and slow

to turn to you for that comfort.

As I return to South Africa

I miss family and friends in the UK.

More time alone.

I realise how quickly I turn to people for comfort.

You invite me gently not to rush to fix the aloneness

but to look to you to be my constant companion.

Feels hard

Easier to pick up the phone.

As things seem uncertain and unfamiliar,

my things in cardboard boxes

both sides of the world;

living in a friend’s spare room, not my home;

a new season, not yet fully defined;

in this place, you invite me gently to turn to you

with certain hope and anticipation

that you are my rock and my certainty.

You remind me that wherever I am,

I can be ‘at home in your love’.*

As I struggle to articulate my life

and comparison knocks loudly at the door,

again you gently invite me to turn to you

knowing my significance, value and meaning

is rooted in you alone,

not in what people think of me

or whether I’m doing things

that I or others define as ‘significant’.

You tell me your word is a light to my feet.

Not a search light to see the whole road ahead

but a flickering candle in a lantern

only enough light for the very next step

and that step was to return.

You invite me to place my hand in yours

and I know it’s true

(even when it doesn’t feel true)

that it is safer than a known way.

I guess it’s true you have more patience with me

than I have with myself.

For a short while I live in lack

and tears come

not recognising the person

standing close by my side

who can meet me in every place of need.

Who can be my everything.

* John 15:9 “Make yourselves at home in my love.”

Personal update…

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Following my last post, a few people have felt left ‘up in the air’ themselves about what I am up to! So let me give you a brief update (if you are reading this blog and don’t know me personally feel free to ignore!). If you know me and want to hear more details, do contact me by email. I plan to write a proper email update soon.

I still feel very much at home in Cape Town, and still feel called to live and work there, in fact opportunities and openings seem to be increasing. However I am visiting my other home, London for Christmas and hope to be back in Cape Town in January, February or March depending on a few factors.

My main reason for going to the UK is to meet my new nephew and to await my visa renewal but also to have time to reflect on the first 3 years in SA and on the next 3 years there (I hope!).

My current 3 year South African volunteer work visa finishes mid January and I’ve applied in Cape Town for a new one and wait to hear the outcome. I’ll keep you posted…!

Poetry around the table

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Thursday nights are community dinner nights at my church, St Peter’s Mowbray in Cape Town.

Friends and strangers sit together around tables, those with beds to sleep in and those who sleep under bridges or by the train station. Strangers become friends. Community forms. And amidst the struggles and fights, people feel dignity and warmth. We hope.

One Thursday we decided to write poetry and draw with some of our friends and it went down surprisingly well.

I provided prompts for poems and paper and pens and people engaged and shared what they had written.

I am 

– by Maureen

I am a streetwise kid

I feel very sad because I sleep outside

I want a better life

I wonder what will happen to me

I fear death because I don’t know what will happen to my children

I hope to get a better life in the future

I try to become a better person

I believe I can come right

I dream real love will come my way

I am streetwise.

 

I am 

– by Tash

I am me

I feel like the world is my playground

I want peace for all

I wonder what life after death looks like

I fear loosing a loved one

I hope that God blesses all of mankind

I try to stay positive even when things and life seems impossible

I believe that I will reach my goal of making a difference in someone’s life for the better

I dream of a world without violence, hate, greed and destruction

I am someone who believes in change.

 

I am

– by Hassiem

I am lost in the world

I feel happy

I want a good life

I wonder what will happen to me this winter

I fear God, no one in the world

I hope for a better life

I try to get me a home

 

Homeless

– by anonymous

Cold and hungry,

Wet and tired,

Food, more food,

Will help,

Kind people,

Cruel people?

 

Wet Reality

– by Zach Stewart, Aged 14, member of St Peter’s Mowbray

I’ve always liked to believe that

Life is like a rain storm.

And you can stand in the middle,

Shivering, and getting sick from the cold,

Or you can be that “weird” person,

That, in the rain, takes off their jersey,

Accepting the cold

While running on the banks of rivers,

Shouting, “FREEDOM”.

Two options I thought, but,

A forgotten reality too.

That reality sits under the bridge, in the rain

While the swelling river bites at its feet.

It prays for an end

To the eternal cold, but

A gulp

Or a smoke from it’s cigarette,

Between. Each. Word.

It’s heart beats slower

Bum… Bum… Bum…

A banging in the back of it’s head,

Or a voice,

Hollow, and reassuring.

“Drink, drink, drink. The cold will go away…”

 

Overflowing love and infectious joy in a prison

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love behind bars

My friend in Cape Town is an inspiring example of intentional love: sacrificial and overflowing. She carries joy with her everywhere and tells a story in her new blog about taking that joy and love right into prison with her and the impact that had. I want to share her story with you here.

About a month ago I walked into a coffee shop and the barista asked me, ‘Where do you come from?’

I responded, ‘I’m from here, why?’

He smiled and said, “Because you’re smiling like a European on holiday. Locals don’t walk around looking that!” We both chuckled; I grabbed my coffee and moved on.

I didn’t have time to tell him why I was walking around with this look on my face. But I have time to tell you…

My friend Sarah proceeds to tell a wonderful story about visiting her friend in prison, encouraging him and speaking life over him to the point where their joy and life spilled over into those around them. You can read the rest of her story here… I highly recommend you take the time to read it, such an inspiring story and mental image that goes with it.

The Mountain

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The tabletop

The banqueting table of God

The Mountain

Around which, life happens

Above which, streets bustle

Against which, all vistas are set

In relation to which, directions are given.

Wherever you are in Cape Town

You can look up

To see it towering above.

In many cultures and countries

Mountains are sacred

A meeting place with God.

Directing our sight upwards

Above the everyday hum-drum

And hassle of the streets

Above our concerns and cares

Upwards to see

An awe-inspiring constant

As life and death, joy and suffering

Shift as shadows

Around it.

Even when covered with cloud

We are aware that it’s there

Can sense it without seeing it

The Mountain

Proceeding and more permanent than humanity

Rising above the man made structures

Keeping us from over-estimating our race.

A silent but strong prompt

To lift your eyes

To know where your help comes from

To remember the greatness of the Creator.

His constancy

Majesty

Faithfulness

Centrality.

And yet

Unlike the mountain

He isn’t cold, removed

He steps down

Gets involved in everyday life.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

We often need something

To lift our sights

To raise our hope

Wherever we live

Mountain or none.

What prompts you to look up?

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” – Psalm 61:2

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?” – Psalm 121:1

 

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

A Spacious Place

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table mountain 2

The light here seems brighter

The differences seem starker

Yet mingled in poverty

Hope and kindness shine

As I look to the mountain

I remember from where

My help comes.

As I look out to sea

I remember the vastness

Of His love.

This is my spacious place

Here

There is space to breathe

Here

My soul tells me

I am at home

 

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