illusion 2

illusion most real

It was a still autumn afternoon as I sat at the weir on Nursery Stream at Kirstenbosch. The reflections of the forest trees were so clear that I could hardly make out the rocky bottom of the shallow pond. Something as immaterial as a reflection in the pond’s surface had effectively obscured what was ‘really there’.

It was a timely reminder that emotions can distort our perception of situations, and that it takes effort and a change of perspective to see what’s really going on ‘beneath the surface’.

illusion 1illusion most real

Still afternoon pool
mirrors encircling trees.
Whirligig
betrays the surface.

What is real here?

Upside-down world floats,
obscures what lies beneath;
rock and stone
lie hidden in the
shallow crystal stream.

Seen and unseen touch
where air and water meet.
Emotion
drowns reality,
veiling your truth from me.

illusion 3    illusion 2

aloe 1

bitter-sweet aloe

Aloes are amongst the best defended plants I know. Their thick spiny leaves and bitter sap safeguard their watery reserves through the long dry summers. These defences make aloes look like really tough characters. But the aloe plant I sat with the other day told me a different story. Like many of us, its prickly exterior protects an inner vulnerability.

I learnt from aloe about the importance of boundaries. By protecting its leaves, aloe is free to give generously of its nectar throughout the winter when there is a huge demand for this high-energy food. It’s the same with us – healthy boundaries protect us from feeling exploited and burning out, and enable us to share our special gifts more sustainably with others.

aloe 1bitter-sweet aloe

You look at me – assume I’m tough,
able to survive a drought.
Thick of skin and sharp of spine, but
you don’t know me from inside-out.

 Protected by my saw-like leaves
and bitter sap is a tender heart;
I fear unbridled neediness
will fast deplete what I can impart.

But look again – in my ample arms
I cradle buds like lime-green cones.
Seasons of flowers, dripping sweet,
this is the gift I can sustain.

aloe 2     aloe 3