15 April 2015

a rock cairn



Here's how I imagine surfing theory goes: "when the wave swells...ride it. "Don't FIGHT against a wave swell, but relax and RIDE the wave wherever it takes you.

This girl from the 'Merica interior has never surfed...and if my skiing skills are any indication, I should probably never try...BUT I'm doing my best to glean wisdom from wherever I can in this mess of a season called grief.  Grief is the name of my wave.  No board or "totally rad" lingo involved.  just tears.  Today's swell wasn't a quick slap in the face but rather a slow repetitive build in size and intensity.

The curvatures of the above "panoramic" photo are slightly misleading.  The place where I was standing was the southwestern most point of Africa...the point at which when sailing, you start going more east than south as you come around from the Indian to the Atlantic ocean.

Hope, is my word of the year.  If you think words of the year are corny or confining, tough tootsies - just roll with me, okay?  So, all day I've wondered what the origin of the name of this wildly fantastic place is.  The water is tumultuous, the rocks are impressive, the clouds are fast, the scene is incredible.

Evidently a Portuguese chap by the name of Bartholomew Dias named the place "Cape of Storms" due to his crew/vessel's perilous experiences on the rough and rugged seas around the southernmost tip of Africa.  Later, Portuguese royalty from the comfort of their own thrones, decided that the name "Cape of Good Hope" was more apt due to the benefits of trade routes Dias' discovery opened up for their economies.  It's all about perspective, isn't it!

The weather moves through there like a manic experience...seeming to change every 5 minutes from sunny and clear to stormy with rain (you can see a bit of that in the photo).  Cape of Storms seems more practically realistic to me for that reason.  But even places of storms can be places of hope, huh?  It's a good word lesson for me.


After climbing up some rocks/stairs to look out across the point from a cliff where I took the photo, I stacked 4 rocks on top of each other as a memorial of sorts to my mom; a cairn; an ebenezer of sorts. I couldn't stop thinking of her there.  She loved the water, she loved God's wonderfully wild natural world and the fantastic diversity it holds for us to experience and enjoy and wonder in - and I wanted to call and tell her about it (she always talked about how she loved to travel vicariously through me - wanting to know all about what I was seeing and hearing and smelling and feeling).  But I couldn't.  Actually I won't ever be able to ever again.  First lap of today's grief swell.  In the rain, I quickly stacked 4 rocks, one for each of the 4 of us remaining in our nuclear family.  I said "this one's for you mama" and Bethany and I did the right-arm-to-the-sky-"pentecostal" move she had become fond of in her last few weeks of life, and said "Praise Jesus" (that's what I always imagined she meant with the arm move).  We scurried back down the wet rocks and wooden stairs to sea level where Lesley and Finch were doing the same thing for Camille.



Camille, Lesley's sister died the same day that my mom died.  Lesley and her family are the reason Bethany and I picked up and decided to come to South Africa this week.  To share your days with someone you know is building cairns with rocks and in their heart everyday too, if even for a short while, is a gift.  If you know Lesley, you won't be surprised to know that her cairn for Camille was much prettier than mine...the rocks smoother and flatter...a little flourish of greenery on top...no water droplets on the lens for her photos ;)  Yet another lesson...you can't compare your grief to anyone else's...we all do it, and it's always useless and counterproductive, it feels like.

This is just the "tip of the iceberg" as they say...or "just the cape point of Africa", as it might be in this case...there is so much more to think about and process...me staying home from dinner tonight to write this, is my effort to ride the wave...trying not to fight it but ride it.  It's harder this way, it's more inconvenient for everyone, but it feels honoring of the woman my mom was and the gift of relationship God gave us.  To you! mama.  And to God! for giving you to me...or me to you...or both.

8 comments:

thedasslereffect said...

A beautiful piece. I am glad that you got to build an Ebenezer for your mother in a place she would have loved.

"you can't compare your grief to anyone else's...we all do it, and it's always useless and counterproductive, it feels like"

This is very true, especially when folk consider the grief of others and are tempted to gauge any sort of progress or lack thereof.

Blessing to you four in the cairn.

angela said...

I deeply appreciate your letting us in on the process. Really hard, really brave, really beautiful. Hope is all about perspective--that gives me a lot to chew on. Blessings to you as you and your dear friends journey together.

deborah said...

Lovely. Thank you.

Coralie Anne Farish Scott said...

Lord, you have set your servant free- a light to enlightened the Nations & a glory to Your people Israel.

God Bless.

Meg Meyers said...

Thank you for sharing this Heidi. P.s. I liked your cairn better

Theresa said...

This is so beautiful, Heidi! Thank you for this glimpse into your processing and grief. We are continuing to pray for you and for Lesley in this time. Blessings to all of you.

Lee said...

So glad that you and my daughter know each other. Thanks for letting us in on your journey.

Cindy said...

Beautiful, Heidi!! The custom aspect of cairns, the waves of grief - I resonate and am praying for you with love from Nashville.