courage, dear heart. you can do this.

you’ve changed, haven’t you?

all the truth that you once nailed to the inside of your heart — ran your fingers over every day when nobody was looking — none of it makes sense anymore, does it?

none of it.

and you’ve stared out of windows, and all those tiny cracks in your life, searching for the light, and for that thing that makes it all fall into place, and you’ve found it.

at last.

haven’t you?

and it doesn’t look like what you knew before, and it doesn’t look like anyone else’s, and how do you walk away from all that you’ve known?

and now, you’re afraid.

afraid of walking out your front door wearing your new life, knowing that they might not understand, and you’re lying there in the middle of the darkest thinking hours of the night, hoping they will see how lovely this new life looks on you, but all you can feel is fear.

why?

why are you so afraid of another’s eyes on your heart? have you not scraped enough pain from your skin to feel — to know, that it is ok for you to change? have you not discovered yet, that it is ok to change your mind about things — the biggest things, the smallest things, and even the holiest things.

you can change your mind about anything, really.

really.

because truth has found you in the most unexpected of places, and you have had to grow out of your skin, your birthday, your promises and your life, in order to know that you are only halfway there and suddenly, or maybe not, time has been shy, you realised that the joy that was once blooming in the middle of your heart, is dead, and has been for a while, and that living a lie will not bring it back to life.

only living, will, and

the light is out there waiting for you. waiting just for you to start putting down all the things that no longer fit into your hands, and your bones, and your mouth, and your eyes, and your life is there too, breathing in and breathing out.

with, or without you, and

you might have to undo a vow, or change holy books, or change the way that you have always ticked boxes, and loved yourself, but this can all be done, and

it is scary to stand there, naked from your bones to the tip of your heart, and yes, some of them will not understand, and yes, some of them will not be able to stay, and that is ok.

really, it is.

let them leave.

new people will come.

really — they will, because

do you know how beautiful your truth finally looks on you?

courage, dear heart.

you can do this.

— courage, dear heart. you can do this.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Kat Jayne.

grow.

do not be afraid

to take up more space

when the light

has finally found you,

and your roots have grown.

— grow.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Hieu Hoàng.

Do not be afraid to take up more space when you’ve outgrown your boundaries, and your borders, and your dreams, and your beliefs, and all your hopes and fears, and everything you once thought impossible, and everything you once believed as truth — root down and take up all the space your new life needs.

Not everyone in your (old) life will be comfortable with this.

That’s ok.

Wish them well and grow your own way,

liezel

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.

the thing that gave you joy, is (still) waiting.

do you still have that dream?

the one that you have been dressing and,

undressing

since you were little.

breathing in the joy

of knowing that

this,

this beautiful thing

belongs to you,

and

only you, but

then

they made

you build a fence

around the thing

that makes you happy.

keeping you out,

and away

from it.

your

face

pressed

right up against the magic,

but

not

close

enough.

did they say,

who do you think you are,

and

that will never happen,

and

you are not like them,

you are like us,

and

people like us don’t dream.

and,

you

think

you

are

so much better than us.

but

you

are

not.

do you remember it now?

i thought you might.

the voices

are pretty much the same,

no matter who you are,

or who you were,

once-upon-a-time.

and that fence

might be overgrown by now.

mine was.

and it might be higher

than it seemed

when you still believed

in dreams.

that happens.

so, don’t you worry

about

weeds,

and thorns,

and strangling things,

that can be cut back,

ripped out,

and

broken down.

that will be the easy part.

what i want to know,

and this,

is really the most important part,

do you still hear their voices?

because

that is where the lie started,

and

that is where the lie must end.

so

turn

your

back,

dreamer, yes

you must

if you are still searching

for that thing

that made you feel alive, and

it will need some care, and

a little bit of love,

but it will live

if you want it to.

so, this is what you do.

you listen for another voice,

and

it is quiet

and

it is soft,

so listen carefully.

it says i-believe-in-you things, like

you can,

and

i know you can do this,

and

what a great idea,

and

you are just the right one for this,

and,

let

me

tell

you

something else.

sometimes,

there is a lot of noise

when fences come down,

and

when dreams go up, so

don’t you mind this.

it will die down,

and

you will grow up,

and

you will grow out,

and

you will find your way again.

because

the thing that gave you joy,

is (still) waiting (for you), and

the light on your skin

will be beautiful

and warm,

and

one day,

sooner than you think,

you will walk

straight into yourself,

again.

— the thing that gave you joy, is (still) waiting.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Matheus Bertelli.

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.