Early morning mist was still hanging over the farm as I set out for my daily walk. Breathing in the peculiar bushveld smells I lifted my face to the sun’s rays and welcomed the new day. As every morning, I was overwhelmed with the sights that surrounded me and I thought my heart would burst with joy and gratitude at the privilege of living on this extraordinary beautiful piece of land. I could just not get enough of the sounds, the smells and sights particular to this part of the country.
The tall grass was lightly swaying in the cool breeze and I detected the large ears of a Njala ewe sticking out above the graceful wave only a few meters away from me. With a bright greeting directed at her I kept on walking, making my way up into the hillside from where I would be able to look out over the valley.
With my walking stick in hand and small backpack on my back, I climbed the rocky path up to my favorite lookout point. It was a stiff climb and the heat was already rising from the fragrant veld and large rocks. Reaching the secluded spot I made myself comfortable on a flat rock underneath a large Acasia tree, after I have checked for snakes. With my mug of coffee in the one hand and a rusk in the other, my eyes glided over the valley in front of me. Like every morning I was not disappointed. As far as my eye could see the valley was covered in dense bushveld vegetation, arrayed in different hues of green.
To my right the hillside was dotted with Euphorbias with their arms raised to the clear blue sky, distinct in their own beauty. To my left the mountainside was covered in a green blanket of Acasias. In front of me the valley layed like a peaceful, slow moving river, making its way down to the bottom of the valley. In the sight of such magnificent beauty one can but only be silent. As my eyes feasted on the sight the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson came to mind. “There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eyes can integrate all the parts…” Most mornings I came to this spot to enjoy the beauty of the valley. On every occasion my eyes bound the different parts and elements of the valley into one. In reality we owned only a small piece of this beautiful landscape, but my eyes and my being saw and experienced so much more. I was not bound by boundary lines or title deeds. I danced with the wind that swept down the valley. I glided with the sunbeams on the rocks on the mountainside. I swayed with the tall veld grass and I played hide and seek in the shadows of the thorn trees. The buzzing of bees was my mantra and the call of the fish eagle, my link to the land and its inhabitants. I felt part of this wondrous landscape, a bond that no man can sever.
Then, the day came that I was exiled to the city. I had to take up residence in a landscape devoid of natural beauty, cast in concrete and steel. Uprooted from the land where I flourished, I stubbornly refused to set down roots in this grey, depleted land. I could find no beauty here, no matter how hard I tried. I sought in vain, time and time again turning away in disappointment in the face of constructed imagery.
There was only one place for me to go and that was turning inside, seeking in my treasure rooms the images of those glorious mornings and days I have so diligently recorded and stored. Nothing can ever compare to those moments spent in the presence of the Divine as revealed in His majestic creation. While in exile I cherish those treasured moments, marvel in the wonder of them in the hope of one day being able to set eyes on such a landscape again.
“The point in turning inward is not to turn away from injustice or ecological threats, but rather to turn to the abundance of spirit and soul hidden inside. To avoid despair and cynicism and to find purpose and meaningful work, it becomes important to be aligned with the natural abundance secretly seeded in each human soul.”
©Copyright Micelle Coetsee 2015