Woke in the freezing dark and stillness before dawn and spent 45 mintues in meditation. I have done this sitting practice with monotonous regularity for most of my adult life and it has now become as significant as brushing my teeth. I don’t think of it as ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’ because I am leery of those words right now.
I pay attention to my breathing and how my body feels, the tension in my shoulders, tiredness, the energy flow. As my breathing, body and mind quieten down, I just watch the thoughts, sensations and emotions flow through my mind and heart, unimpeded. I don’t judge them or examine them or try to influence them, I just pay attention and note the flow, the mutability.
The bedrock these years is thankfulness, the persisting gratitude, that I am alive and filled with courage to go on. The suffering is there but so is presence, the receptive breathing self, consciousness, embodied and just paying attention.
Then I have coffee and chat with Una before she goes out to do community work. After that I dress warmly nd go for a walk up the steep hillside. Looking down past aloes and eucalyptus towards the valley, it all looks very brown and dusty and thin to me. None of the lush beauty of the Welsh border. A little neglected and shabby and empty of colour.
But the sun is hotter this week, a fierce blaze coming over the granite mountain peaks, and winter is coming to an end. The inner drought will pass in time. I keep walking but not so fast I don’t notice vivid carmine azaleas and camellias in flower and the veltheimia in umbels of dusty pink. Labourers, Xhosa and Sotho, in dirty blue overalls, surly and with woollen caps low over their ears, coming down from the squatter settlements of Goniwe Park. Clanging of handrung bells from the high school set against the hill, the beginning of classes after assembly.
Back at the house I have slices of lemon in hot water and go out with a watering can to dampen pelargoniums and my new rocket seedlings. In the next road I can hear dogs barking at passersby. I miss having dogs, I keep hoping the cats from next door will visit.
Then to work, the sustaining grind of it. Birds very noisy in the hot sunshine. I listen for the African cuckoo, the piet-my-vrou. It is almost spring and each spring the birds come into the back garden for nectar and dew on the grass. Birds, little white-eyes and house martins, fly onto the front stoep to get at the nectar in the apricot clivias in terracotta pots, their wings a quick blur in the sun. And there are lizards basking in the warmth on low walls.
And I am just staying in the day, staying present to what is there.