On exiting the stage in red shoes.

Today, I experienced one of those surreal moments where time seems to stand still for just a little while, and everything inside you pays attention.

I saw a grizzled, old man.

Spine curved with age, he shuffled, unhurried, enjoying the early evening sun on his face.

As my gaze started to drift away, I noticed his shoes — they were red. The brightest red that I had ever seen. A celebration unto themselves.

They made my heart jump with joy. The sheer audacity of disregard for age, or convention, or what might be seemly enough for a man who has seen more than a few seasons.

As our eyes met — and it was just the briefest connection in time — I smiled at him. A gift, in exchange for this unexpected, wild delight of a man in the final act of his life, owning the sidewalk in his red shoes.

Oh, the beauty of this defiant act of joy.

— On exiting the stage in red shoes.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

It seems a good day to repost this story. Here’s to living our lives owning the sidewalk in defiant red-shoed joy,

liezel

Anna, means grace. (It’s time to say goodbye).

I lit a candle for you, today.

Only one. If you live right, one light is enough.

Every time the tiny flame sputtered and died, I lit another. It still burns, even now, as I write with the sun almost at your door, and the moon, at mine.

The candle’s light kept me company as I peeled carrots for lunch—I know you’d appreciate that—the spirit keeping vigil whilst the hands are busy with the ordinary task of preparing food for a child. You were always so good at that. Filling tummies and hearts.

Remember how you showed me how to peel a potato so that the peel was almost as thin as tissue paper? Your face a study of quiet pride as your knotted fingers struggled not to yield to arthritis. I remember.

And how you used to walk with me to the other side of town, whenever I came to visit in the school holidays, just so that I could see the museum for the hundredth time. If you only knew the joy that gave me. The escape from the agony that was school. Of not fitting in no matter how hard I tried. Although, I think you do. You, were always my safe place. I remember.

And how you used to lift me out of that ancient cast-iron bath? The water never stayed warm in it. The blazing heat from the gas-heater warmed that small bathroom and small children too, on those icy nights.

Now, the flesh has faded from your bones and you are the one needing strong arms to hold you up and Winter has come, once again.

And I am not sure my heart can ever be warmed up again.

The years have been kind to you. But, time? Time, has been cruel. It has taken so many people that you have loved. And how you loved! I hope that they are all there, waiting for you when you walk through that door.

I hope.

Do you remember how I loved to play in the shade of the old Cape Rough-skin Lemon tree outside your kitchen door? How I loved that tree. And those lemons. And nobody could make lemon curd like you could. If I close my eyes, just like this, I can taste the sweet tartness on my tongue.

And when you were the first to look cancer in the eye and I gave you a card that said ‘Don’t give up’. As if you would.

And then, when it was my turn to face a doctor’s words, you gave it back to me. ‘Don’t give up’, you said.

As if I would. With your stubborn Irish genes in my DNA.

And now, here I am. On the other side of the world. I picked up my roots like a skirt and stepped gingerly onto another continent. Home, but not quite. I wonder if the women in my bones remember that their blood was once a part of this land. Do they remember me?

I am home, but not quite. Just like you.

And as I give my son his lunch, I teach him about nouns and how they name things, like ‘Ouma’.

We haven’t talked about adjectives yet, but I have so many that walk hand-in-hand with you, my Ouma.

Strong. Brave. Gracious. Wise. Loving. Loyal. Courageous. Faithful. Funny. Beautiful. Kind. Hopeful.

Soon, you will leave this place. It’s ok. I know that you’re tired. It’s been a long, hard season for you, and they are waiting.

They’re all there waiting for you. And I hope that there is a lemon tree. And new, strong bones and blue eyes, bright with new life.

And I shall be ok. It will hurt like hell. I cannot lie. It will be a searing pain that will leave a mark, but I shall be ok.

You know that.

I lit a candle for you, today.

It still burns as I wait.

The moon is here with me and so is the light.

…and I shall wait.

It’s ok, now. You can take off this life. It’s a bit frayed around the edges. You’ve worn it well.

But it’s time to go home, soon.

It’s ok.

I’ll see you on the other side.

— Anna, means grace. (It’s time to say goodbye).

© Liezel Graham 2019.

a new year’s song.

the year is dying in my hands

and

. i am filling my apron

with a feather

. for hope,

and

tiny bits of tumbled sea glass

. for courage.

.

.

when the waters rise,

. they will not wash over me.

.

.

a pinch of faith,

. you only need a little,

and

a quilt of mercy

to warm my heart

.

that

at

times

has

loved

so coldly.

.

. i will guard the spring.

.

guard it fiercely,

so that only

love

will

flow,

. but i know

that i am cut from rough cloth

and

grace

is the bread that keeps me alive,

.

and you.

.

so

i will give

. and give

. and give,

until

we cannot see

who we once were,

. for all the love.

.

that,

is how they will recognise us.

.

.

the broken ones.

.

not the knowledge.

not the perfection.

not the raised eyebrow,

.

but

the

love.

.

it’s how i recognised you,

when

all

i had known was failure.

.

you loved me first,

and

never

stopped.

.

and i will not worry about

my hips

or

my wrinkles

or

my yesterdays

or

my tomorrows.

.

i am held.

.

and because i am the one,

.

that

one,

.

who deserves an entire parable.

. yes.

.

the one

who wanders

and

strays .

into thickets

. and

thorns,

where others see the danger,

i will remember that i was searched for

. over and over,

every time

and

i too will

. search

when others get lost.

.

i will not be the pointing finger,

but

the open hand that says,

. here i am.

.

let me be

a light in a glass jar,

. shining

in spite of it all.

.

.

—a new year’s song.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

.

.

Photograph by Martí Pardo.

.

.

Friends,

.

.

I wish you a peaceful, spacious

new year.

.

.

Know that you are held

and that though they may rise,

the waters will not wash over you,

.

.

liezel

this story, ends well.

in the late afternoon,

i light

a candle in my kitchen.

the visible hours

are

few

this time of year.

my eyes

and

my heart

both

struggle to see

clearly

in this season.

there is so much

in the air

that

hides

the ache

inside

and

this longing

for

all is calm

all is bright,

is overwhelming

at times,

and

perhaps

your

star is hidden

this year?

and,

when children sing,

you,

only

have

the memory

of

what

once

was,

to unwrap

and

the edges are frayed

and

the past

is

all

that

still

breathes.

and the past

might be

your (only) present.

and,

the nights are silent,

and

dark.

sometimes.

yes,

some seasons

are not

always

merry

and

bright.

i know.

but

we

keep

moving

and

clinging

to

the

hem

of the one

who heals.

so,

i carry this small flame

through

doorways

and

heart-spaces

and

i watch it

soften

the every-day

scratchiness

of the hallway

and

heart-ways.

ready

to welcome

anyone

who should knock,

seeking.

and,

tiny lights have done

this

deep

work,

forever.

this,

keeping the dark outside,

and

holding the night at bay.

bravely.

this little light of mine

flickers

and

sometimes,

fails,

but,

it fights.

oh,

it does.

turning fearful places

into

a place of hope,

high

on

top

of

a hill,

and

you can trust

that

your light

is still

enough.

enough

to

warm

hope

so broken

and

grief,

so fierce

it would rip the fabric

of

your

being.

but it won’t.

it won’t.

although it will try.

and

we will light

(our)

tiny flames

and

we

will

breathe

in,

and

out.

in.

and.

out.

until

we return

to where we

lost

the precious thing.

where we lost our hope,

and

in the end

we will

be ok.

our stories might be

broken,

but,

stories full of light,

always

end well.

just keep burning.

— this story, ends well.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

Photograph by Inna Lesyk.

Amidst all the lovely chaos of family and Christmas preparations, some of us

get lost and get tired from trying

to hide sadness and grief.

Your story might have broken bits written into its chapters,

but hold on — stories full of light, always end well.

liezel

on being the holy broken.

you wonder

if it is worth

living your life

cracked

wide

open, whether

.

.

wearing your heart

on your sleeve

and

all your

hopes

carried in

unclenched

hands,

is ever safe, where

.

.

all the world can

see, and

all the world can

say

what they feel

about the tender courage

that has

taken

root

within you.

.

.

it will not be easy.

no.

definitely not.

there will be pain.

it is a new birth,

after all.

.

.

but, you must not

curl

inward.

.

.

lift your head.

unfurl your spirit.

reach upward.

live outward.

.

.

you are the holy broken.

.

.

the one holding the light.

.

.

and if you show your scars, people will come

and sit with you,

and they will listen.

.

.

and this

is how we heal each other.

by living gently,

and walking vulnerably.

unafraid of opinion.

ready to wipe away

tears

and

fears

and

other darkness,

with the light

shining

from

the cracks

in our bones.

moved only by the spirit.

.

.

so, yes—do it.

live your life a white dove

on the battlefield.

.

.

cracked

right

open.

.

.

it will all be ok.

.

.

—on being the holy broken.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

.

.

Photograph by @luizclas .

on samaritans and being the light.

what if,

we became

the light

in the dark

for

the ones who are lost,

.

.

who can’t find their way home,

no

matter

how hard

they try,

or pray,

or believe.

.

.

because sometimes,

faith

can

blister

and

crack,

and we all need to be covered

with

the coolness of

mercy,

when the fire

burns

too

hot,

.

. sometimes.

.

.

what if,

we became

the hansels

and

the gretels

with our hands

full

of

crumbs.

.

. and, crumbs are enough,

to lead

the way

out,

.

.

of where we

too, once

had

to

cast

our

eyes down,

to hide from the things

that snarl and that bite.

.

.

let’s feed

the hungry.

we don’t need that much.

.

.

really.

it’s been done

before

with

the smallest of numbers.

.

. even threes and fives

are seeds

for

hundreds.

.

.

let’s be the salt

and

the hands that

hold

up

exhausted arms that just can’t anymore.

.

.

let’s

look

for tired feet

and dirty feet,

and yes,

they need it most,

to

wash, and

.

.

let’s search

for smouldering hearts,

that are ready to give up,

and

let’s

gently

blow

life

back

into

the cracks.

a holy resuscitation.

.

.

let’s be the ones

who

unbruise,

and

unhurt.

.

.

who

pick up

and

carry

and

bandage

and

stand,

when it matters,

.

.

and

doesn’t it always?

.

. matter?

.

.

that

somebody

chooses

to stand

with

the outcast

and

the outnumbered,

.

.

in spite of

the holy

guidelines, and

.

.

they

have

been

wrong.

.

.

in spite of love.

.

.

so, here’s what we do,

.

.

let’s

be

the renegades

and

the shepherds

and

the cupped hands

holding

water, and

.

.

perhaps then

we might

see

that there is no

piece of paper,

degree

.

.

or decree,

that could ever

carry the weight

of

this wild samaritan

love.

.

.

—on samaritans and being the light.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

.

.

Photograph by Egor Kamelev.

on being the holy broken.

you wonder

if it is worth

living your life

cracked

wide

open, whether

.

.

wearing your heart

on your sleeve

and

all your

hopes

carried in

unclenched

hands,

is ever safe, where

.

.

all the world can

see, and

all the world can

say

what they feel

about the tender courage

that has

taken

root

within you.

.

.

it will not be easy.

no.

definitely not.

there will be pain.

it is a new birth,

after all.

.

.

but, you must not

curl

inward.

.

.

lift your head.

unfurl your spirit.

reach upward.

live outward.

.

.

you are the holy broken.

.

.

the one holding the light.

.

.

and if you show your scars, people will come

and sit with you,

and they will listen.

.

.

and this

is how we heal each other.

by living gently,

and walking vulnerably.

unafraid of opinion.

ready to wipe away

tears

and

fears

and

other darkness,

with the light

shining

from

the cracks

in our bones.

moved only by the spirit.

.

.

so, yes—do it.

live your life a white dove

on the battlefield.

.

.

cracked

right

open.

.

.

it will all be ok.

.

.

—on being the holy broken.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

.

.

Photograph by @luizclas .