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.
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.
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