Thursday, 10 November 2016

Love Trumps Hate

The American people have spoken and I'm gutted at their choice for the 45th President of the United States of America.  While Trump and his values are a complete and utter anathema to me, the American people have exercised their democratic right, we have to respect that right.  History will show how right or wrong that democratically elected choice was.



As darkness and despair, hopelessness and anger, lick at our souls, now is the time for us to shine the fire of love and hope more brightly than ever. We must turn away from those who will spread hatred and fear. We have to focus on the light within ourselves. We have to fight to keep that light of hope shining in the face of despair and darkness and the evil that men do - especially the little evils in our day-to-day lives, those that we justify and rationalise away, because our fears are fed by salacious headlines and egotistical, meglomaniacs who actively incite people to live down to their lowest, darkest potential.
Our world has leaders such as Trump, Putin, Kim Jong-un, Mugabe, Malema (a Trump-in-waiting), Zuma, Bashar al-Assad and other modern day tyrants who have taken, or are taking, us back into the dark ages, rather than forward into a new future where all sentient beings can live in peace and safety and abundance, including our animals - Trump's sons come to South Africa and, for fun, shoot animals already threatened with extinction. 

To overcome the loss of great leaders such as the late President Mandela, the late Ghandi, the ailing Archbishop Tutu, and FW De Klerk, the outgoing Obamas and Hillary Clinton, each one of us has to act, in both small and large ways, to ensure that Love will trump hate. 

But how do we change this world, so full of fear and prejudice in even the most decent of ordinary folk, too trusting - or perhaps too fearful of an unknown, insecure future -  to see the insidious danger that lies in the silver-tongued words of these false leaders and demagogues? 

We're moving into an age in the historical timeline of humankind's evolution where we must lead by example. We must inspire people by our own right actions. We must heal the shadows in our own hearts first, before trying to heal others (which is when we usually end up merely projecting our own darkness onto those whom we profess to help). 

In this way, person by person, we can keep hope alive, even as the world darkens around us. Our inner light - expressed through small kindnesses, through consciously choosing right action over wrong action in our day-to-day ordinary lives - can be the beacon that calls to other souls who also believe that this world can be a better place for all. And, as the light continues to flicker in the storms and tempests of this world, perhaps we can inspire others to choose the light of hope over the darkness of fear and hatred that so easily divides us from our compassionate humanity.

If we can change ourselves, if we can look inward and defeat the secret enemies that lie in the wounded shadows of our hearts then, and only then, can we love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Our inner peace will spread from our single self, to our family to our friends, our communities, ever outward into the greater world until, finally, Love trumps hate. 
Buy your copy of "a stranger in a strange land"
And, because love always trumps hate, here is Hillary Clinton showing us how to behave with dignity, grace and courage in the face of defeat: 

Monday, 31 October 2016

All Saints Day or The Day to Celebrate the Dead


Today 31 October is All Saints DayChristian festival celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown.

In Mexico, this day is also known as Día de Muertos or The Day of the Dead.  The veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest on this day, and traditionally Mexican people gather to celebate and honour the lives of their ancestors.

31 October is also the day my Dad, Isaac Benjamin Heinemann, was born with a caul wrapped around his head. Birth with a caul is rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in 80,000 births.

My Dad was indeed a rare and special soul: peacemaker, joker, rescuer, master builder, sportsman, hard working miner, underground fire-fighter (winning numerous bravery awards), helper, healer and a talented dowser.  He couldn't, however, hold a tune, even though he loved singing hymns! Throughout his life, even two days before his final devastating stroke, he would literally give away the shirt on his back to anyone in need, irrespective of race, gender or religion: an unusual trait for his generation of Afrikaaners, brought up in the conservative NG Kerk.

To honour his spirit and his life on this doubly special day, we'll be giving away 25 x R20 notes to random homeless people, with this note attached:
My Dad and I fooling around (ca 1963)

My poetry volume A LAMP AT MIDDAY was dedicated to my dad.
Many of the poems express my grief at the long, slow process of his dying.
 
Happy Birthday Dad - we love you!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Peace, Light and Tea

On the last Sunday of every September an auspicious event is held: 
the annual festival of peace and light at the Nan Hua Buddhist Temple in Bronkhorstspruit.
After missing the 2015 ceremony because of overseas travel, 
we left early to travel the 100+ kilometers to the imposing temple in  Bronkhorstspruit

We lit candles for peace and light while chanting Om Mani Padme Hum

We were served tea by graceful tea practitioners, who ceremonially brewed and served each table 3 cups of tea as we listened to recorded music by YoYo Ma, Nigel Kennedy and Stepan Grytsay, as well as live chanting by the Venerable Yung Shun, with her beautiful voice.

The tea tables were decorated with beautiful table clothes ...

... as well as exquisite ikebana flower arrangements ...

... which we admired as the Abbot Master Hsing Yun, with the aid of the friendly and helpful Master of Ceremonies/Translator,  explained the concept behind the tea meditation. 
"One bud, two leaves" - the sweetest youngest tea leaves harvested for tea, but the tea also contains older leaves. Like life, the Chinese tea can taste bitter at times, but then the sweeteness comes through. 

 We made new friends - here we are with Phil from Pretoria, 
in his traditional dress honouring the source of light and life, the Mother Sun ... 

... and here are Preloshnie, Shereena and Nabawiya from Sasolburg.

Afterwards, we headed home to Johannesburg with our tummies filled with tea 
and our hearts filled with peace and light. 

We're already looking forward to next year's ceremony, but I'll leave you with the Merit Sharing prayer which concluded the 2016 Nan Hua Temple's Festival of Light and Peace ...

May palms in every world be joined in kindness, compassion,  joy and generosity
May all beings find security in friendship, peace and loving care
May calm and mindful practice give rise to deep patience and equanimity
May we each give rise to spacious hearts and humble thoughts of gratitude.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Enter Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win a copy "Beauty & Truth"

Celebrate the 2016 McGregor Poetry Festival (26-28 August 2016) 
by entering this giveaway of the 2015 McGregor Anthology "Beauty and Truth," 
containing an inspiring range of South African voices, emotions and reflections  

GIVEAWAY ENDS ON Sept 04, 2016
GIVEAWAY VALID IN SOUTH AFRICA ONLY 
Two copies available to win
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED WINNERS COPIES HAVE BEEN MAILED

Sunday, 31 July 2016

For the Love of Poetry

South African poet Judy Croome was judge of the 2016 Writers 2000 Poetry Competition. 

Read the "BEDFORDVIEW & EDENVALE NEWS" article here.

Listen to Judy Croome present feedback to competitors and announces the winner: 

All the photos of the festive function at Inyoni Creek Club House 
Here are a few photo highlights:
Andrea Girling wins a volume of my poetry "a Lamp at Midday"
Giving the poetry entrants feedback and announcing the winners
Chairperson Nicki Bosman, Vice Chair Mike Corders and
Burgie Ireland of Writers2000
The Carnival themed Awards lunch had some imaginative and fun masks!
(I'm not wearing a mask!)
David and Gail Robbins from Porcupine Press.
David judged the non-fiction category.
Anthony Ehlers judged the fiction category
Poetry prizewinners from Left to Right: Jill Jacques (2nd placed poem "Sheddings"), myself,
Meggan Preuss (1st placed poem "You and I" and Duncan Steptoe (3rd placed poem "Emergence")
Being a judge has its rewards - not only reading great poetry ,
but also walking off with some lovely gifts!

Thank you to Writers 2000 for a fun filled afternoon!  



Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Land of Normality

After the choppy seas of the past seven months, we’re finally returning to normal.  However, after the challenging times behind us, what is normality?

The waters are calm and peaceful again: my husband is back at work; I’ve submitted a new short story to a US publisher, another is about to go off to a South African publisher; and we’ve returned from a short, soul-restoring holiday to Kaapschehoop.

What a relief to realise that after traumatic events – be it the loss of a loved one or a life threatening illness — life goes on and normality eventually returns.

Or does it?

While on the surface life seems to return to the same rhythms as before the crisis,  there are small beacons flashing reminders that irrevocable changes have occurred: the frozen Facebook profile of a deceased friend; the multitude of scars criss-crossing my husband’s body; and the red-ringed date on my calendar marking the first of his many future check-ups.
Can life ever return to normal after rough seas have battered our shores?

Image purchased from www.iStock.com 

©iStock.com/"Waves" by airn
It’s less than a year since our lives changed. We’re still picking through the flotsam, discarding psychological and physical debris, re-designing our world, for life can’t ever return to what it was.

Post-trauma, when the rough seas abate and we dock on rocky shores, we look around and discover a new world. Small yellow dandelions creep through the cracks in the rock; the sun is partially obscured by clouds ... but dandelions aren’t always weeds and clouds also bring purifying rain.

Filled with gratitude, we anchor ourselves and accept that life, no matter how changed, can still thrive and grow in this land of our new normality.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Art of the Here and Now

I used to be a planner.

My days and months were planned years ahead. I had lists of the lists of the things I needed to do.

Yet, with my attention focused on making all those lists and plans, I didn’t realise that life itself was passing me by. Insidiously, plans and lists dominated my life.  So stealthily I didn't notice it happening, my days lost their balance in the clamouring demands of everything that needed to get done. 

Since my husband’s diagnosis, treatment, surgery and now (thanks be to God) his slow recovery, I’ve learnt that one is most alive when plans must be changed in an instant and there’s no time to make lists. 

Life these past seven months has consisted of focusing only on this moment, this day. No time to worry about yesterday’s mistakes. No time to stress about planning for tomorrow’s tasks. No time to think, just to be in the moment and deal with whatever happens. 

Living in the present moment
allows us to be open to whatever experience comes our way


Image purchased from www.iStock.com 
©iStock.com/"Life Crossword Puzzle" by kaan tanman
Life can’t be planned. Life can’t be controlled. Life can only be lived in the here-and-now. 

Sometimes it takes a terrifying crisis to make us understand on a deep spiritual level that this moment of existence is all we really have. In spontaneaously living through the crisis, we learn how to differentiate between what's essential to our happiness, and what is ultimately superfluous. 

And how enlightening that discovery has been.