Picture     by Claire Raciborska
Every day I pass the water. Dotted with reeds, it is a piece of silk smoothed into the hollow between the hills. The sun floods it with such generosity I find myself gulping for breath. Most of the autumn days I see the crowned cranes. They are tall and elegant as they pick through the lilies or the rye tufts in the pastures. Golden rays pour out haloes from heads held delicate and proud. All summer I watched the pair, stretching enormous wings over the fields. They landed on our roof, and with my head resting just beneath the eaves, I heard the rush of their feathers pushing against the air. Their strange cries mourn the skies like a lost traveller from a country far away. Even the drops of rain falling gently between the thatch I heard. Summer ripened and then fell, tumbling towards my feet. Then one day their child walked between them, threading swirls through the brown mirror. Her halo was half-formed, like a bottle brush made of sunlight. 

On the way home from dinner out in the village, my daughter looks up and asks me who painted the stars. She asks me what the sun is for and if the fish caught and killed by her father opens its mouth to let god come in and fetch its spirit. Her laughter falls like water into my heart, washing away pain. She runs lightly around the house, collecting cups and bowls and sponges for her play, showing me new ways to be and love.

In the afternoons, light catches in the leaves of the plane trees. It thickens with the lateness of the day, glowing viscous and oily. So close they stand, their branches knit together like a ceiling over the garden. They sing with the whispers of a forest. I belong to them and they belong to me.

On a Saturday morning I sit on the concrete step of our back door and pour water from a red kettle into an enamel basin. Steam weaves ribbons across the distant blue mountains as I dip my razor in the water. The blade glides up the back of my calf. The soap is warm and alive in my hand. It smells of wild sage and honey. My legs are like friends I knew long ago. I stretch them out and curl my toes towards the valley.
I lie back on the bed and feel my soul sink down into my body, warm oil sliding across my skin. Above me, a gong rings out, and angels gather above my belly. I don’t fully understand why I am there but I know it is somewhere I should be. My soul, my thoughts, my body are meant to love in unison. I was made whole.

These moments, those that float, those that write my story between the words, these are the moments that matter to me. I have dug deep into the earth and uncovered that which I value, and what I value is slow and simple. I want a slow and simple life. I want moments measured by breaths and days measured by light. Hands in the night and warmth along thighs. Understanding grows like the spinach sprouts in the used tires filled with dirt outside my back door. Slow and simple is also wild and passionate. It is not wildness and passion like I used to know. It is not bright and flouncy in the dress that turns every head. It is quiet and hidden from all except those who matter most. The rawness of slow and simple lives just beneath the skin. It is layers of meanings upon meanings, of lives upon lives, of worlds upon worlds. It is the swallows who fly apart but always together, rolling and teasing the dusk. It is the colors of autumn creeping across the land, shading the vales with velvet and smudging cosmos pink along the roadside. It is the flying ants rising in clouds from the diamond-studded grass. It is the spiderwebs like lace in the corner of the window. It is the pulse of blood as my muscles strain and my lungs fill. It is the primal ties that link us with all those who came before and those who will come after. It is the magic in every day. In the everyday.

This post was sponsored by Colleen of the Midlands House of Healing (084 603 0604). To believe in her healing power is to believe in magic. To see or even understand what she does lies beyond the scope of most of those who visit her. But the senses which whisper to me of the sacred nature of a small body resting against mine, of the power coursing through my woman’s body, of the impossible beauty of the reedbuck’s leap across the veld, tell me that change is afoot. This is a different kind of knowing, one that belongs to those in the heart of the moment, and no others. It requires faith, and surrender, and a whole host of other primal things. Our bones know these stories of healing and growth, of life and death, of celebration and mourning. It is when we start to believe that we begin to hear them.


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