Category Archives: Musings from Mocambique

Thoughts and lessons learnt from the relative solitude of a piece of paradise on the Mocambique coast

The Colour of One’s Shell

Battered and bruised, but beautiful
Battered and bruised, but beautiful

I found this small cowrie on the beach this morning. It caught my attention because it was an unusual purple, adjoined with mottled greys and browns. I didn’t look at it closely when I picked it up, as I was thinking on other things, but I did notice that it felt rough in comparison to how cowries usually feel.
When I eventually got to have a good look at it I saw that it was damaged, its edges broken, the carapace ridged with wear. When I turned it over part of the inside shell was missing. Overall, it wasn’t a prime specimen. I got to thinking how sad that something so young should have been so battered, and carry such scars. Somehow I seem schooled to think that battle scars are only for the more mature, that the young should be exempt.
Such fallacy! Life is life and stuff happens. What counts is how we deal with that stuff, and how we move forward from it. Some people glow from their trials, others buckle under the weight of them.
As I carried on looking at this little cowrie, however, I thought it must have passed through its time of tribulation with flying colours. Purple is the colour of majesty and power, and it was the beauty of its colouring that caught my eye and led me to pick it up. I believe God thought it had done well enough to cloth it with colours of power and make it beautiful in spite of its wounds.
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune will ever be with us. How we address them occupies a number of themes developed by that Bard of old. Not much has changed with regard to the human condition since that time despite the technological developments that would contradict. Man is ever what he was, facing the same challenges and inward battles, winning some and losing others.
If you are a disciple of Stephen Covey, you will always look for the” win-win or no deal” strategy when faced with adversity. Some are of the “winner-take-all” mindset, others will walk a mile to avoid confrontation. It is this diversity, surely, that makes us so interesting.
Looking at the beauty of this little damaged shell, I find myself praying that when my end is come and my shell is washed up on the shores of life, I too will attract with the colour of my over com

Resilience Under Water

The trees are on what is usually the bank
The trees are on what is usually the bank

The reports coming out of Mocambique were scarce and varied.  For those in the know, if the Limpopo floods its banks in South Africa, then it surely will flood the lowlands of Mocambique.

Vague verbal rumours from residents of a resort near Xai Xai filtered through to me in Swaziland of bad floods in Chokwe, the water levels were higher than in 2000, that Xai Xai and surrounds were on red alert, but in the main there was a careless silence from news agencies.  I watched reports on floods in Queensland, fires in Franschoek, snowstorms in Britain and all the while our neighbours were drowning in a sea of muddy water.

After a worrying four days I heard the road was open, with restrictions, and I could return to my base in Chizavane, some 40 kilometres north of Xai Xai.  I set off from Swaziland early in the morning not knowing what delays might await me along the way.  Maputo was its usual busily chaotic self, needing concentration and patience.  Thereafter the EN1 was eerily quiet.

It took me a while to figure out what was different.  As I drove through a small hamlet a young lady suddenly jumped out of the shelter of a shop and tried to wave me down.  Not something that happens too often on this road.  That is when I realised that there were no mini buses.  There were also no buses and no trucks.  The further north I went the quieter the road became.

Once I passed Manhica, the eeriness deepened because now there were no people.  Pools of water blinked in the intermittent sunlight along the side of the road, stretching outwards on both sides.  As I got to the cane fields of Chinavane, I began to see the first actual evidence of floods.  Roads alongside cane fields were canals, the brick making kilns were covered with tarps, there was hardly a person in sight.  At one point I passed a small group of women wading down a road with bundles on their heads, probably making for higher ground.

The contrast when I reached the town of Macia was shocking.  People milled around in what seemed like their thousands.  The noise was intense, the activity frenetic.  I later found out that rural communities had been evacuated to this town.  Apparently many of the Chokwe residents were taking shelter here.  Once on the other side of the town, however, the emptiness continued.

Finally I reached Chicumbane, the last village before Xai Xai on the bank of the Limpopo floodplain.  Here were the first real signs that there was a problem: a military helicopter parked near the football field, two big groups standing listening to the soldiers, a couple of large trucks with huge equipment loaded on them.  I knew the point at the edge of the town at which I would see the extent of the floods.  In a way the scene matched the picture I had in my head, although the reality was far more overwhelming than I expected.

I stopped the car and got out to ingest the magnitude of the flooded plain before me.  I have never seen so much water.  There was no evidence of any landmark, just electricity pylons standing out of the saturating brown swamp that stretched as far as the eye could see.  On the road over the floodplain were two military Bailey bridges, and the few vehicles there were patiently awaited their turn to go over the raised humps of metal.

I passed groups of people on the side of the road, discussing whatever displaced persons discuss.  Others were in boats, with bundles of possessions in them.  A number of cows were grazing in calm bovine fashion on the edge of the road.  I saw a truck half submerged parked next to what must have been the owner’s home.  I wondered why he had not heeded the warnings to move.

Xai Xai was like a ghost town.  The only places open for business were the petrol stations, and one restaurant.  As I reached the tributary that runs through the centre of the city, I saw a number of people standing looking into what is normally a bed of reeds, now a substantial river.  As I crossed, a movement caught my eye and I saw a man wading thigh deep down a street that borders the river.

The scene changed dramatically once more when I reached the higher ground of the city.  The same mass of urgent humanity that I had seen in Macia, though not quite as intense in number.  Until I reached the outskirts of the city that is.  A well-known landmark on the edge of Xai Xai, especially to travellers north in this vast land, is a filling station and stop called Petromac.

I stared in amazement at the scene before me.  It seemed that every shop in town had erected a stall alongside the road from this point on, and the throngs of people around them were seething and vibrant.  The mini buses had established their station on the right, and business, it seemed, was booming.  It was an amazing atmosphere, where people who are used to adapting to the vagaries of their land, were getting on with their lives without, it seemed, any resentment or anger.  It was almost like a carnival, and I wanted to get out and be a part of it and drink from the positive energy of these remarkable men, women and children.

As I travelled the last 40 kilometres to where I turn off at Chizavane, I wondered at the strength and resilience of these Mocambicans.  All I had seen along this six-hour journey, was communities dealing with a problem they had dealt with many times before in a mature and logical manner.  There was no wailing, no standing on the side of the road begging, there was just a getting on with the business of living.

Back at The Beach as we call it, a neighbour tells how he watched a man being swept downstream, hanging onto the tail of his cow.  In his desperation to save his animal he couldn’t heed the calls of those on the banks to let go and swim to the bank.  No one knows if either of them made it to safety.  There are reports of the river at Chokwe being 11 metres higher than normal, some 10 kilometres in width.  The mind grapples with the vision of this, and the impact on humans, animals and land.

The months to come will be hard.  Already there are fears of cholera and dysentery outbreaks.  As I neared the bridge over the Limpopo, I smelt from the higher ground that was emerging from the receding water, the unmistakable aroma of rotting flesh.  Chokwe, hardest hit by the floods, is a major vegetable producing area of Gaza province, so fresh produce will be hard to come by.  The repairs to roads, bridges and homes are set to be in the billions.

The world is silent.  Are we bored with floods in Mocambique?  Are there too many natural disasters in this world of ours, that another just dulls the senses?

I am indignant, because this is a generous nation.  I remember when Cyclone Damoina hit way back in the early eighties, out of Swaziland and South Africa, Mocambique was the most devastated.  Yet the government of that day sent a donation of cement to Swaziland to help it rebuild its infrastructure.  I am humbled each week when the man who works as my guard comes back to work bearing gifts of cassava, sweet potatoes, pawpaws whatever, but it is always way more than I need.  They are always willing to lend a hand when needed.

It is as well that the citizens of Mocambique have t resilience developed over many decades of hardship to overlook the lack of generosity of others towards them and to weather the storms that frequently overflow them.

Even as the rains continue, they do not cry and wail for someone to come to their rescue.  They do not blame their government and the world at large for what they are going through.  They get up as soon as the rain stops and they start doing what needs to be done to get everything running again as soon as possible.

There is a lesson to be learnt from these people on the eastern side of southern Africa.  It is a lesson of humanity, of the value of a positive attitude, with no sense of or demand for entitlement, only of living each day to the best of your collective ability.

 

 

 

As day dawns….

I love this time of the year.
Each day begins with a determined resistance to getting out of bed to watch the sun make his strategic appearance because it happens really early. The first colours of the dawn start streaking the sky around four am. After about twenty minutes of trying to ignore what is happening outside my window, I have no choice but to get up, fling open the door and rush out to be awed by what I see.
It is such a performance and each day is different. The colours change from burnt orange to delicate pink to shimmering gold and everything in between. Some mornings the colours are more dramatic, other times they are more subtle. I can almost see God smiling as he operates the machine that makes this kaleidoscope, His delight in the show He is orchestrating as much as His delight in astounding us.
The build-up to the actual appearance of the sun is quite spectacular, and one is stretched waiting for the moment of that first glimpse of the orb above the horizon. You only need to glance away and you can miss it. Once that thin line of golden light appears on the horizon, the ascent is very quick.
There are mornings when I fancy the pomp and ceremony accompanying this daily ritual to be quite arrogant. Other times, the sun almost seems shy about its entrance onto the heavenly stage. I can quite see why the ancients, and I suppose some still today, deified the sun as there is a sense of majesty, a feeling of awe that accompanies this splendid arising.
If we return to the creation story in Genesis, it is written that God made this great light to rule over the day, and the lesser light to rule over the night. So the sun is imbued with a certain authority and has a duty to perform. Why is that we humans ever want to worship that which we can see, and spurn so willingly that Creative Force behind the created that we are unable to see. We seek for that which our finite minds can control, loth to let go and give praise to a Heavenly Being that seems distant and unapproachable. I love the thought that my heavenly Father actually does this for me, in fact He does it speciallyvery simply because He loves to see my delight at the show He puts on for me each day.
Isaiah 62 v4, God says He delights in us. In verse 5 He says He rejoices over us much as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. Again in Psalm 149 verse 4 the psalmist says “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” What an awesome thought! That the God of all takes time each day to delight His children!
It is not just at the beginning of each day either. The whole performance is repeated at the end of the dayjust in case we miss the first show!It is easier to be aware of all this when you are in an environment that is more rural, away from the madding crowd as it were.
Sundowners are quite a tradition here at the beach. A couple of times a week we make time to meet at some strategic spot simply to enjoy the sunset, catch up with each other, and wind down the day together. It is a peaceful time, a time of companionship, a happy time.
The other Saturday my neighbours invited me to join them in farewell sundowners for their guests from Sweden who were leaving the following day at the lake a short distance behind the dunes of the beach. What an extraordinary evening that was! The beginning of the sunset was really quite ordinary. After a while, however, we noticed that the clouds opposite where the sun was going down were tinged with an amazing pink. Then it happened. The whole scene changed and rays of pink and gold and orange and all sorts radiated out – the entire sky was involved. Swirls of cloud illuminated with different hues, changing every few moments. As if that were not enough, it was all reflected in the waters of the lake, so we felt as though we were in a 3D experience. The Swedes among us said it put them in mind of the northern lights.
A natural phenomenon caused by some dust particles in the sky I am sure would be a logical explanation for it. I prefer to think it was God giving the holiday-makers a good send off and a lovely start to their new year.

What a Canvas on which to build
Northern Lights?

Woman of Africa

One day while walking on the beach I noticed a woman fishing from the rocks. Nothing remarkable you might think, until you understand that here this is a predominantly male preserve. She inspired the following:

She stands unmoving in the spray
This woman of Africa
She is immutable, she is steadfast
The waves are relentless
Pounding impotently against the lava of old
The woman is timeless as she is bold
She is the rock on which she stands

As they reflect the amber depths
Of unplumbed, undefined emotion
Her journey is an unbroken step
Walked with stoic endurance
A life unremarked and unnoticed
It will end as it began
On a palette of reeds
In an unfloored hut
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes
Living to newly departed

Still the waves keep coming
The rocks stand firm
Her timelessness slowly fades
Until another stands in her place

Hall of Heroes

This poor crab didn't make it outThe explosion, though expected, was stultifying to the senses when it came. The fireball cannoned high into the night sky, a dervish swirling in the wind. The extraordinary beauty of the highway of bright orange ashes that was laid, against the terror of what else might ignite somehow fitted the tragedy of the fire that razed my house to the ground that windy November evening.
This is my tribute to the heroes of that night. The list is long, and I pray comprehensive. I would ask that you be inspired by their generosity of spirit, their humanity and their compassion without which I would not have survived the pain of loss as I have.

Maggie and Barbs, you were first on the scene, you brought a fire extinguisher, you made the calls, and then you stood by me, and held me up. As if that was not enough, you then wrapped me in love and care and took me home and looked after me as if I was your own.
Shane, you came running, and you did not stop until you were certain every house was safe. You braved the heat to make sure any remains would be safe, and helped me find some of what I thought was lost.
Carlos, what a star you were, taking control, quietly and efficiently sorting out all the technical problems to ensure the damage was limited. You tried to lead me away, to leave the ruins and move forward. May that be your portion, too.
Rio, you blessed my heart so much with your concern, your love and your consideration! I wore your socks today….and wondered how one so young could be so aware of a simple need of mine: that of proper walking shoes!
Monika, your voice of encouragement and certainty that this was not the end has come back again and again to reassure me. You are a tower of strength and support.
Jacques, my one “young ‘un”, bless you man of God for the comfort of your arms around me, your wanting to shield me from the sight, offering to “look” for me. To Sonia, my other “young ‘un” for your prayers and words of encouragement, your gifts of much-needed items that helped keep things normal
Peet, your quiet strength, the power of the words you spoke to me on the dune that night touched the inner core of my being with hope. You reminded me that no matter what is going on around us, we can stand secure, no matter how broken we are there is hope, for no reason other than we know our God! The prayers you have prayed, the bread we broke, the strength you imparted, thank you and may God continue to use you as His own.
Erma who, in the midst of leaving Chizavane for a much-needed break, thought to leave clothes for me, and unhesitatingly parted with new items that I needed so badly.
Tomaz, for your foresight in dismantling the stairway so the fire had no route to spread, for your ongoing, reticent concern that I am coping – I will yet eat of your crayfish!
Jaime and Alda, you are such faithful workers. Jaime, you have never once mentioned all that you lost in that fire, or asked for compensation. You worked like the Duracell Man that you are in the hot sun to clear the wreckage so the scar could heal. Alda, you too, never complained about your loss. You have adapted to our new circumstances, and just got on with what needs to be done.
My neighbours, Kevin and Cathrien, Ronnie and Sandrine, Louis and Frederica, and Mayke, how do I thank you all for the supplies you bought, and Kevin took the time to deliver from Maputo. The thoughtfulness of each little detail, down to making sure I had the tea I like, the toiletries, the journal, broke my heart while making it rejoice! Zara, your gift for Snatch has touched many people.
John and Jane for tears together, for clothes, for thinking of and providing the cash I needed to get my emergency passport and to get back to Swaziland when I couldn’t think for myself.
Mathe for making sure I could get papers, Senhor Cou for being so patient with one who tries you, Gloria for your support and prayers, the residents of Chizavane who stopped for a minute to pray for us, thank you.
Before I leave Mocambique for Swaziland I am sure there are those of you wondering: what of Scott? He is so huge that I cannot include him here, he has to stand alone. He is the only person who hears the cry of my heart before the words are formed in my mouth, and the gratitude I feel is deeper than words can say.
A full week after the fire I had all the documents I needed to travel to Swaziland. It was an exhausting week, and I only realised how drained of energy I was when I couldn’t keep the car on the road. So I rested for two days, and then made the heartsore journey to the land of my birth.
More love and support awaited me. The calls had not stopped coming since the news of the fire got out and now it was time for the hugs, telling the story over and over, loving and being loved by those who have ever been friends.
Barry and Viki, as always, first on the phone, offering cash as they were too far away to do anything else, to do whatever I needed doing if it was in their power to do it. Then the books, the offering you collected, the notebooks, pens, soaps that I love, thank you.
Martie, you offered refuge, you offered help, I just had to let you know what I needed.
Helen Ward and Potter’s Wheel your donation was more than generous and will play an important role in getting me on track with writing again.
Carlie, you and Jim opened your home, your friendship is boundless, and you went into overdrive to make me fashionable again! You made my Christmas Pud, but most of all you listened, even if you did get a bit bored and dump me in the pineapple fields at the last!
Dottie, you gave me the best gift – that pamper session was what I needed to get fully back on my feet again.
Wendy, my face and I thank you for your gift of the tools of our former trade.
Caroline, your case of clothes produced an outfit that made me belle of the Thanksgiving ball at the beach, your thoughtfulness in giving me a devotional that I so needed, the towels, soaps, you are a treasure.
Estelle, you and Hannes went the extra mile as you always do – my first new book and such a clever one at that! I will use your love gift to replace my bible and concordance.
Joan, Jean, Margaret and Berdien, you have no idea how much your calls and your support meant, how good it was to hear from you.
Dick and Jenny, Susan for your gift, which helped, replace much-needed supplies.
Mathew, thank you for thinking to ask if I was unhurt, Bev for your prayers and words of encouragement, Kirsty for keeping tabs on the progress down here.
And then to my sons, Dwayne and Mark, to Vanessa, who are my support team, my advisors, my reasons for carrying on.
To each one of you, may the God of my sufficiency bless you abundantly according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

Thought, Word, Deed

Do you ever play conversations over and over in your mind? Do you have those times when words that have been spoken, either to you or by you, simply will not go away?
Words are creative and they have a life of their own. Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. So who do you think you are in your heart? This might seem like a trite question, but so much about how we interact with those around us hinges on our opinion of ourselves. Where does this opinion come from and how is it formed?
Our understanding of who we are, our significance, and perception of our destiny are formed in early childhood through the words that are spoken to us, the unspoken words, the communication through nuance and the reactions to our actions of those who are closest to us. Careless words spoken harshly at this tender stage of development can leave lasting scars and set in motion behaviours that in turn affect many people along life’s road. Or careful words spoken in such a way as to belie their true meaning.
I remember in the eighties as a journalist having to develop a way of reporting events in such a way as to get the message across without actually giving all the details. In those days detaining journalists was the national sport. One of our top reporters even developed a star chart for the various jails in the country. I was once taken in for questioning after a report I had broadcast, in “special speak” of course. I duly produced my typed report and the tape and when examined in that light, what I had said seemed all quite innocuous. The frustrated officer, who had been ordered to get me silenced at any cost, eventually exclaimed: “It’s the way that you speak English that’s the problem!”
More and more I am seeing how the impact of words spoken today can impact people many years hence. The way I was raised and how my personality developed is how I live my life. This is passed on to my children, who in turn continue the thread. We either live according to the words that formed us, or we live fighting against what was said to us. Whichever is true, people we associate with throughout our days on this planet are affected in some way by what we say and how we say it.
It doesn’t end there, either, because words are how we communicate, they are the essence of our interaction with our fellow man. Their importance, their efficacy in forming us, continues throughout our lives and so it is really important that what you hear is good, positive and edifying. It is strange but true that the negative words are the ones you continue to hear long after they have been spoken. They are the ones that seem so real, whilst the compliments and life giving words are somehow not quite credible. Another repercussion of the apple incident in that paradisal garden is man’s propensity to believe the worst of himself.
A friend of mine likes to say of women that we take our worst features and compare them to our closest friend’s best features in order to feel bad about ourselves!
The power of words, the power of opinion, and the power of the mind to interpret both is something to be very aware of. We can so easily destroy that which is meant for good, by reacting to a false understanding of what has been said. We see criticism where none is intended. We become defensive when no one is attacking us.
It is a hard lesson to learn, that of speaking only that which is positive, that which is edifying, that which brings love and peace and not disquiet and insecurity. But it is one that each one of us, me first, needs to learn!

A name is but a name…

These red millipedes decorate the dune shrubbery and are clearly visible even from a distance

Their red bodies are clearly visible on the pathways, on branches, on leaves, their tracks distinctive in the sand. They are a type of what I have always called “shongololos”. In English millipedes, in American who knows?
I like words, and I like the sound of words, so “shongololo” says a lot more to me than millipede. I believe this is true of most of us, we have an affinity to certain words, and they have peculiar pertinence for us even meaningless words and expressions. I remember a shop assistant who kept proclaiming excitedly, “yummy bananas” in response to every comment and action.
In a number of cultures in the world, a person’s name is important and has significance in terms of culture, or the family unit. Sometimes they are linked to the faith of the family, or to an historic event, or simply something that really impacted the parents around the time of conception or birth. I think we have lost a lot in my culture by simply choosing names that we like for our children, instead of thinking out what would be a good, powerful name to serve as a reminder of who they are every time they are called.
A friend of mine many years ago was a bookkeeper for a large utilities company in Swaziland. She was responsible for the payroll. Procedures were fairly informal in those days, and so workers simply gave their names verbally when they went onto the register. One of her more favourite characters was “Doughnut” Nkambule. She was intrigued by this name and often wondered how he came by it, how his parents would have known about doughnuts which were not readily available in Swaziland in those days. Then a new tax law was introduced and everyone had to produce their birth certificates to prove they were who they said they were. Imagine her surprise when her “Doughnut” turned out to be “Donald”.
I worked with a man whose first names were Noah Mkhumbi. Mkhumbi is the siSwati word for boat, a clever link by his parents. I don’t remember why they gave him these names, but in my imagination I see a flooded river and a desperate boat trip to get to the maternity hospital on time.
Recently the entire twitching community was up in arms over the re-naming of birds. I am not sure if this was only in Africa or worldwide. The outcry was certainly monumental enough to be global. The rationale behind this massive exercise was quite logical: the same bird in Kenya is called by a different name in Madagascar; a finch in Zambia is something else in Uganda. This was causing confusion in the avian world and so it was decided that in the interests of accuracy, uniformity of nomenclature was the route to take.
Words can be confusing. Languages are living and evolve constantly as the human races progresses. My faithful old Oxford Students Dictionary is hopelessly out of date and many everyday words we now use cannot be found in it – a serious drawback for someone who is setting out to be a writer and author of note. Throw different connotations into this and you can be further confused. New meanings are given to old words and if you don’t keep up with the modern usage you may well find yourself in an embarrassing situation. Such as has happened to me recently.
I have long joshed friends from across the pond that American is a completely different language to English. I believe it was Scott who gently told me, when I was talking about a series of children’s books based on the antics of my beloved cat, that the word “Snatch” has a rather smutty connotation in America. I ingested this information and felt a little bewildered. What to do?
You see, in true African tradition, her name is linked to her arrival in our household. She was brought to me by none other than the Duracell man, Jaime himself. He arrived one day with this minuscule, spikey haired, green-eyed, underage feline in a plastic bag. I felt she had been snatched from the fate of feral survival as a Mocambican Kraal special and named her accordingly. Friends of mine called their rescue cat Miss BIB, short for “Bum in Butter”, a clever and apt description. After her tumble from the rafters I did think of “Crash” as an alternative, but it doesn’t quite fit the bill. “Crash Tales” doesn’t have the same ring as “Snatch Tales”.
Snatch is a perfectly acceptable English word with a definition that implies grabbing, quickly taking, or a small excerpt of music. How anyone could make the mental leap between the verb, “snatch”, and the noun “vagina” is beyond me. In actual fact, I feel slightly offended by it, both as a woman and as someone who loves semantics.
After serious consideration and reflection, the decision I have taken was really very easy. My cat’s name is Snatch!

Losers Take All

 

No matter what time and tide through at them, the rocks are immutable

I was so thrilled to see a low tide early yesterday morning. The height of the tide, and having to be away for a week, have made it two weeks since I last had an early morning walk on the beach.

As I got to my favourite spot I greeted the birds, crabs and reef fish like old friends. It never ceases to amaze me how the beach changes from day to day. As I looked for familiar rocks I was astounded to see the one I pictured on this blog a few weeks back, the masterpiece, was almost wholly buried under the sand. I couldn’t find it at first as only a small portion of one corner was visible. The sand was firmly packed on top of the rocks I had walked around a couple of weeks ago. New pools have appeared where there were none. But they are rocks and I know that they are still there, solidly under my feet, under the water. I know too that they will appear again, next week maybe or the week after. They are not fickle, these rocks, they are dependable. They go with the flow, they withstand the blows. They emerge triumphant for a time and then accept their sublimation with equanimity, knowing they will have their chance to glow in the light again.

On this journey through life there are many times when we are covered with sand, when we are in a place that is gritty and dark and maybe a little suffocating. If you are anything like me you do not respond well to these testing times. I squawk and squall and am most ungracious in the chaffing that is so necessary to form me into that which my Creator wishes me to be. I have yet to learn the lesson of the rocks: that time and tide wait for no man. I forget that I need this time of grinding, of filing and smoothing in order to better perform my role when it is my turn to do so. I forget that if I am grounded on my Rock, it does not matter what life washes over me, I will be secure. I may be hidden for a while under a pile of sand, but in time it will wash away and I will see the light of day once more.

A favourite book of mine in the Bible is Jeremiah. Chapter 17 is one that is well thumbed. Verses 5 – 6 give a warning: be careful if you depart from the Lord, if you separate yourself, if you make man, or yourself, your strength, because you will not see good when it comes. Truly, when I am in that dark place, having taken my eyes off the Lord and am looking to man to meet my needs, I see no good around me. I fall into a black pit of despair. But when I am in right standing with Him, wonders abound!

I have had a special sighting on each of the last three days. I call these “God moments”. The first was a red duiker, which I have never seen before, coming out of the dune bush onto the road in front of my car as I arrived back here on Saturday. I have seen his spoor a couple of times and finally I got to see him. It was so special and I felt God was saying “Welcome back”! Yesterday I saw a mongoose in the same area – another first here. This morning the first dove I have seen came a pecking around my little patch of dune. I believe each of these is a token of love from my Maker, a soupçon to delight my heart, to encourage me. How sad it might have been if I had missed them. Many times we allow ourselves to get so busy fighting for our slice of the pie, wanting our own way no matter the cost, that we miss out on much of the wonder and blessing that God has lined up for us.

We get ensnared by “My way”, instead of “His way”; we want it all no matter the cost. I want to change that in my life. I want to be able to embrace each season for what is worth and not for what I want. I want to be able to shine for all I am worth when it is my turn in the light, don’t you?