on tending hearts and soil.

gardeners — the ones who like to get their hands really dirty — are some of my favourite people in the whole world.

they are only concerned with what is growing outside their own front doors, but their hearts are big enough to encourage the smallest effort at planting-and-hoping-for-life.

they know that most of us just need water, food, a place for our roots, and lots of love and light — and then the magic happens.

they know that fruit trees, and flowers all have their place and that we are all different, but rooted the same, and

they spend all their energy tilling the soil they have been given, and sometimes the soil that has been taken from them, too, and they know that bad soil, much like a heart, can be fixed by adding a bit of this, and removing a bit of that, and

that good soil can wear out if it isn’t given a chance to rest.

and gardeners know that a little bit can be too little, and a lot can be too much, and that life lies in having just enough of what we need, and when we have more than we could ever use, we need to give it away, or it will rot, right there in our hands, and that sometimes the more we harvest, the more we get.

they know that plants are greenest where they are watered and cared for, and

they live each day by the seasons — to a gardener, every season has a beauty, and a function, all of its own — to everything there is a season,

and it all belongs in the big plan.

they have enormous hearts — the biggest, really, that delight in seeing life, reach for the light, through dark soil, and

they know how to push through a bad harvest, or a harsh winter, or a drought that will kill the joy right out of a heart — they know how to look for hope, and for life, and even for signs that it’s over — and it’s important to know when something is over.

doors need to be closed, as much as opened, sometimes.

and these are my people, the ones with dirt under their fingernails and hope in their eyes, even when that hope is held by a single thread, or a tiny seed, and mustard seed is good for hope, i’ve heard it said, and

it only takes one — seed, or heart, either one will do — to get a plant growing, and a mountain moving, and a heart believing that there is more.

it only takes one, and that’s when the magic happens.

— on tending hearts and soil.

Photograph by Gelgas.

A little freeform writing this afternoon, on one of my favourite things in the world,

liezel

on finding my place.

one starry night, the woman took a walk inside of herself to the quiet places that she loved to visit, and

there, under the karoo sun, she could play barefoot again, unworried about ice and snow and other cold things, and her young hands could tease the

hot earth for tiny fragments of blue glass hidden in the soil, and

one day i will be an archaeologist and i will dig for things — beautiful things, in the dirt, and i will have rooms full of books and i will travel the world and see pyramids and other beautiful, broken things, and we will see each other and smile — the broken things and i — and i will never have to prove that i do know things and they are all wrong about me and perhaps i will finally belong, and i wonder what that feels like, to fit snugly in a place and in a life, like your shape was made to belong, but

some don’t, do they — belong?

and some people aren’t made

to fit into round holes, because they have sharp edges and sharp corners where the loveliest things hide, but not everybody can see this and not everybody knows, and it takes a very long time for a soft, square heart to know that it is ok not to be round,

and i have been scratching in the dust for years to find hope and life and other green things, and

i have grown soft with love for myself, and i still look for fragments and other broken things in places where others see dirt, and

this is my gift — to see the loveliness in a man’s skin, and to hear africa in his voice as our children swim together, here, far from home, and to see hope in the eyes of a woman who crossed deserts and bullets

with children in tow and then

still the oceans, too — what did she know about water so deep and so fierce, other than that it was safer than the hearts from where she ran, and i look for smiles and people who walk straight into you with mouths that bow up to the light, and eyes that sparkle like glass in the sun — these are the things that i search for now, and when i find them, i turn them over, and over, in my hands and when my hunger is satisfied i hide them, deep in a corner, and oh!

you should see all the beauty that i have hidden inside here, on this side of my walls, and finally i belong.

— on finding my place.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Tim Mossholder.

this is (already) heaven on earth.

today, i saw an old man walking with his wife. his turban a flash of bright orange — everyday holiness on an ordinary afternoon, and i saw daffodils — a sea of brazen yellow — just waiting to be noticed, despite the throng of traffic, and tired people chasing lists of things to do, and to buy, and to get through, before they can live, and the sky was a van gogh blue that hasn’t shown its handsome face around here since last september and it made my head dizzy with joy as it shouted hope is here, hope is here. just look up!

and a man with very little money, gave me a smile — he was that rich — and i gave him one of mine as i bought his magazine full of brave stories, and a father was swimming with his little girl and i saw tenderness wrapped in strength and one small heart was safe today, and it was good. and a man from another faith taught my son to swim — gently and patiently, he made miracles happen in my boy’s brain, and later at the shop there were rare, bright jewels in the fruit aisle, although some people call them pomegranates, and the aroma from the bakery was heaven on the breeze, and how i love the way my nose can smell, even though someone once said that it is too big, and unpretty, but i do not care, it works so well, how can i worry about opinions that do not love me.

and another man said this world is going to hell and look at this mess they’ve made, and how can we ever find peace this side of heaven, and i said but look! look — i am wearing my scarlet lipstick and my toes are pretty too, in red — do you know what i have seen and survived to be brave enough to wear these colours, and to tell of joy, and light, and maybe this is already heaven and we need to look up, and around, and sometimes even down, but especially inside, so that we can find the thing that sings in the dark and says, see, it is not too late, take off your shoes on this sacred ground, and all the earth is, you know. and can you even remember how the grass feels under your feet, and just listen to the breath dancing in your chest and do you know how precious that is?

how much it is worth?

just hold out your hands, don’t be shy — and ask for more, and it will come, if you believe.

but you must believe, this doesn’t work so well if you don’t, and neither will you, or your heart, and i am not sure you know this yet, but you are so beautiful, inside and out, and one day you will know it, really know it, when you walk straight into love, as we all will, but until then open the windows and sing.

— this is (already) heaven on earth.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Amin Imanifar.

the holiness of cinnamon, and more.

in the quiet of this morning i made oatmeal, rich with cinnamon and honey’s golden kiss.

i do this every day, and also,

i whisper blessings on the hands that made this and not just mine, no.

all the hands that planted, and watered, and harvested, and packed, and delivered, and the lovely hands that work at the till in the shop where i bought all of this goodness.

all of this light.

how beautiful is this life of mine, i say as i eat all of this love.

and i say thank you to the bees, and the earth, and the trees, and my body, who i so often forget.

but lately, i don’t.

no.

not anymore.

because late one night and early some mornings, when the earth was sleeping, i dared to ask for more.

more light, more God, and truth like i have never known.

and i watered my hopes and my bones with tears, and they were seen.

and they were heard.

so small and so quiet.

but still.

i was heard.

and now i see God everywhere, but seldom where i was told he was before, and now i don’t look for him there anymore.

because he is here in the light that falls on my bedroom floor, even before i vacuum it, can you believe that?

even in the dust, on my floors and on my shelves and on my life, even here.

but dust, is what i am made of and more — little bits of stars and heaven and tears and earth.

and floors are where i have found holiness, and him — yes, God.

and there is more to this, if i may tell — he is in the postman too when he comes to my door, but i don’t think he knows it yet, so i will keep on speaking kindness over him until it blooms white hot in his soul.

and i call him by his name, God, and the postman,

and i say thank you for all that i have received, from Him, and from him, yes, even the mail.

and just in case someone else further back has forgotten that we are all holy, i say thanks for him too, the postman.

the one who delivers my mail with his soul.

it is only a simple prayer.

thank you.

but holy.

holy, with the fragrance of heaven, and somewhere out there in another part of home and earth, someone once touched the cinnamon on my oats, and i bless their hands, and their heart, and their body, and their soul, and for them too, i ask for more.

and this is how i change the world, and this is how i open the windows.

and God finds me here, in the dust, and in the light where it falls.

everywhere.

— the holiness of cinnamon, and more.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Alessio Cesario.

Generational healing.

One of the greatest gifts that you can give to all the women who came before you — your mothers, your grandmothers, your aunts and nieces and sisters all the way back through the generations, is healing.

The same applies to men, of course, but today is International Women’s Day and this is where my heart is, today.

Do everything in your power to seek healing for yourself, both physical, spiritual and psychological.

Be honest with where you are, and who you are.

Be gentle with your pain and your scars.

Trauma cannot be undone in a day, or a week or a month or a year, but you can start.

Be kind to yourself.

Be kind to the memories of those who lived before you. We can only live what we know, we can only do something if we know how, and perhaps they just didn’t know — didn’t know how to leave that abusive relationship, or how to face that addiction, or how to simply love, or perhaps, how to just keep on living.

And perhaps, and this is hard, I know, but if they are still alive, they might never learn how, or want to seek any healing for themselves.

But, you can.

You can change your future and if you ask for the way to healing, to open up before you, it will.

Of this, I am certain.

And it won’t be easy. I am pretty sure of this too.

And healing will look different for each of us. And it might never fully be here for you. You might still jump at the slightest sound and always hate surprises. I do.

You might have to find new friends because your old friends cannot accept that alcohol is no longer your ‘friend’. That is ok. Really, it is. New friends will come.

It might be a coming out to who you really are, or a going back to who you once were, before…

Chains are notoriously hard to break, but you can do it.

And it will be worth it. It will be a re-birth, an undoing of you are not and a discovering of who you are.

Keep searching for it — your beautiful heart is worth every bit.

#internationalwomensday

#generationalhealing

Photograph by Pixabay.

musings on grief.

when you have lived your

whole life,

whole and at peace,

in one place.

does the soil remember you?

.

the old plum tree in the

back garden,

heavy with pink promise.

will she miss the sound of your voice, too?

.

and the gnarled jacaranda

on the front path,

blushing brazen purple every spring.

will she long to feel your hands

as night begins to sing?

.

and then,

there is more.

.

there is you

and

there is me

and

there is

this love.

.

this

love.

.

what about this?

i wonder,

will it remember

us?

.

—musings on grief.

.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

.

Photograph by Irina Iriser.

.

.

My Ouma lived her whole life in the same small town in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

.

She spent most of her married life and after my Oupa died, in the same house. A house that she adored.

.

There is an old plum tree that bears masses of sweet plums and a gnarled jacaranda tree that covers the front garden with a carpet of purple blossom every spring.

.

This old house and garden have been a part of my life ever since I can remember.

.

Today’s poem is more free-form musing than poetry, but I hope it speaks to someone else who might be on the same journey as me.

.

My heart is much lighter since Sunday when my Ouma left us and I have a great deal of peace,

.

liezel