Sunday, 15 December 2013

Spaces between words

When I was growing up in Cape Town, Friday night supper was a big thing.
We all sat around a big round table in our dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows. 
At night all you could see beneath were the lights of Sea Point and the black space of the ocean.    
Above, you could see the moon arc slowly across the dark sky.   
Sometimes it was a sliver and sometimes a glowing fullness.

On Friday nights, we always had challah, a fish main course and dessert.  
I always sat next to my grandmother.   
And it was always very loud.

In the battle for airtime at our table, you had to be quick and loud and funny.   Although she tried, my poor sister never quite learned the trick of sticking her verbal oar in.  My sister Lisa and I would say: hush, Gaby’s trying to talk, but no one would really listen.  That table took no prisoners.

Strangely, it’s the quiet conversations with my grandmother that I remember from those high octane nights.
I remember her favourite line of Grace after Meals.  She never sang it loudly like we did, she just shyly mouthed the words she loved.

The line comes near the end of the prayer:  "I was young and now I am old and I haven’t seen a righteous person abandoned"

I think she loved it because it was true for her. She had been young, she was now old and she sat now among people who loved her. I think my grandmother was a righteous woman.

I live now in London in my own big house. The view is not so beautiful here.  My grandmother is no longer alive and the house with the big windows has been knocked down.

But this is what I learned from being there:

It’s hard to hear anything when people are shouting. 
You can only hear someone else when you stop listening to yourself.
Words are shabby ways to explain ourselves.
Things fall apart but love is what remains.
There is more to know than I can ever see by myself.
I am limited, like all of us, by my time on this earth and my ability 
but I am not alone in trying to understand.

All we can do is look at the moon and describe what we can see as best we can.

I wonder what I will learn next.


  1. I'm looking forward to your next blog on awakening....

  2. Replies
    1. hi janine, nevertheless our Limits--it feels good to enlarge them...and let us take apart each other from our Essay to understand more what is happening.annette