Equinox, Turkey, Yom Kippur, Lunar Eclipse & World Cup Rugby

It’s the Equinox today. For us in South Africa and the southern hemisphere it is the point of turning out towards Spring and Summer; for those in the northern hemisphere it is the point of turning in towards Fall (here in S.A. we call it Autumn) and Winter. Such a special time of year – when the earth stands still for a brief moment before it tilts and turns on its axis – and for when we also note these changing seasons and what they portray on both visible and non-visible levels – there’s a shift, we sense it.

It was wonderful to return home last Wednesday from my adventures with Susan Schwartz in Turkey. My husband was welcoming – he did not play golf as he always does on a Wednesday afternoon! The garden is beautiful with buds and blossoms blooming, many in my absence. My orchids are a delight!

orchids september



I had a fever on my return but with a good night’s sleep, I woke on Thursday feeling better. All is well on the home front, save for ongoing disturbing news here and abroad.

Turkey – how to say in a few brief words on a blog post. Vast, vibrant, verdant, colourful, thrumming, thriving, handsome, beautiful, magnificent, ancient, modern. We travelled southwest from Istanbul (pop. 12 million) then eastwards stopping many times en route and overnighting; and a 12 hour drive back to Istanbul from Ankara leaving at 7.00 a.m. on our last day. Many hours in the air-conditioned bus, travelling, travelling, beautiful countryside, interesting architecture in the towns, mosques everywhere, their gilded minarets pointing up towards the sky. Hot, 35 degrees most days or a little more. Walking among ancient ruins telling of time before – steps, many steps, climbing up and climbing down (Ephesus), amphitheatres (Pergamum), caves (Göreme-Cappadocia), Salt lakes (Pamukkale)  – places of ancient beauty –




 Çan (pronounced John or Jan) our Turkish guide, a very tall, very lean and handsome man of around 33 or so, spoke English extremely well and was very knowledgeable and kind. Naheem our driver was a sweetie. The others in our group were interesting and lovely. A young couple from New Zealand, 4 Australians, 3 young Mexican women. Gabriella from Mexico was here in Johannesburg visiting Alexander Township on an exchange from the London School of Business when Mr. Mandela died nearly 2 years ago; she was so moved by the national outpouring of grief over our deep loss. We saw and experienced much on many levels. I am still digesting which will still take much time for me to process. I even took some videos on my Ipad when Susan and I took a boat ride on the Bosphorus on our last day! A first for me!

And Yom Kippur, which begins tomorrow at sundown, the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar. The Day of Atonement. At-One-Ment. Susan and I spoke a little of this while in Turkey. A few days into our travels was the beginning of the New Year – Rosh Hashana – with Yom Kippur still 10 days away. This day asks much of the person observing the 25 hours of Yom Kippur. It is a rigorous examination of one’s life over the previous year, confessing all one’s sins to G.d, repenting and asking forgiveness. It is a time of fasting as well, denying bodily comforts as a way of focusing on repentance. And prior to the covenant with G.d, making right with those to whom one has caused harm in any way and asking their forgiveness. It is a cleansing for those who repent and a joy to be cleansed.  A solemn time indeed. O that we all – of all stripes – do this! The shofar sounds at sundown the following day and a feast ensues! 

And a few days later, on the 28th September, the total eclipse of the full super-moon, ‘…also called a Blood Moon because it presents the 4th and final eclipse of a lunar tetrad: four straight total eclipses of the moon, spaced at six lunar months (full moons) apart’. *

And the Rugby World Cup which began last Friday night at Twickenham, London. Our Springboks played Japan on Saturday night in Brighton and horror of horrors, we lost. South Africa is in the top 3 of the 20 countries taking part. We’ve won the World Cup (played every four years) twice in the past. But, Japan outplayed us. We were leading by a hair’s breadth in the last few minutes 32:29 but Japan scored a try in the last minute to win 34:32. It was a totally nerve wracking match and we’re all in shock at this completely unexpected result. The shock has been felt world-wide. One of the only times I feel patriotic and feel that buzz is when our boys in green and gold and the crowd in the cathedral of the rugby field (or soccer field) stand to sing our national anthem Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika which is sung in 5 (of our 11) official languages: Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English. I’m always reminded of 1995 when we took the World Cup on home ground – Mr Nelson Mandela was our newly elected President (1994) and to see him walk onto the field prior to the match, and after to raise the cup with Francois Pienaar the captain, were unforgettable moments. S’truth, unity … what a feeling … a birthing moment.madibapienaar

And, in a sense, I feel as if we’re in a birthing moment with change all about –

*from earthsky.org


47 comments on “Equinox, Turkey, Yom Kippur, Lunar Eclipse & World Cup Rugby”

  1. Your flowers are beautiful. As usual, I enjoy seeing your photos and exploring different parts of world cultures and traditions in your posts. There’s a particular sense of peace in this post, as the earth subtly changes its seasons across the globe. We’re entering autumn, one of my favorite times of the year. The windows are open, letting a gentle breeze flow through the house, and pleasant clouds canvas the sky. Holy days are important, if for no other reason, than to give us pause and help us realize that we are such a tiny part of something so much bigger than all of us. I like them to praise and thank God too, but there’s so much more to them than that. The spirits beyond guide us with their presence, allowing us to treasure and make peace with everything in our lives, but only if we are open to it. Thanks so much for this post, Susan. It’s always a delight to visit you here 🙂

    • Thank you for your lovely comment M.J. from which I get a sense of peace from your gentle words of reverence for the changing seasons and the spirits that are there to guide us, if we are but open to the whispers and the wind blowing gently through the house …

      So much to praise and be thankful for … thank you.

  2. Hi,
    Yes, I feel that too. We are in a sense being prepared to birth something new. So nice to see the pictures of Turkey. The culture, the cities, Ephesus and Constantinople, all places that the Apostle Paul visited. Something takes place within us when we open ourselves to the past as we look toward the future.

    Delighted that the trip brought so many ideas and situations that you must examine. Change begins when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with what we see and hear, and then take the time to work through it, slowly.

    Welcome Home.

    • Thank you Pat for your lovely response. ‘Something takes place within us when we open ourselves to the past as we look toward the future’ – your words and so wise thank you. I love the story of Saul becoming Paul … I read a book by Taylor Caldwell on him some long long while ago and actually re-read it a few years ago, one of those great big novels she was so skilled at writing, historically correct as we know it and so beautifully written with great and depthful insight.

      And your last sentence too: ‘Change begins when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with what we see and hear, and then take the time to work through it, slowly’. I’ll just re-emphasise, working through it, slowly.

      Thank you dear Patricia; and for your welcome home from Turkey. As I write I’m on the balcony of our Plettenberg Bay home, returning home to Johannesburg tomorrow.

      Shalom to you.

  3. hi Susan, what an interesting post and so much has happened, hope you are feeling better, loved the pictures- I love visiting historic sites and monuments… turkey looks very interesting.. was admiring the pictures you posted. Its a blessing to have a husband who is welcoming, I would also add to have provided you with so much space to be away with your friends. It must be a beautiful experience for you to have so many varied expereinces … feel good to connect with you again after a very long time… get well soon and take care.

    • Thanks Genevive for yr lovely comment. Yes it was a great privilege to travel with my dear American friend also a Susan. We are blessed indeed to share these experiences. Good to connect with you and thank you all is well. We’re away again down at the sea fixing up our holiday home back on sunday in Johannesburg..

  4. An interesting post. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you, Susan; and welcome home! It was great to hear about your travels. …We are turning towards Autumn in the UK with shorter days, and it does feel colder. I am looking forward to the eclipse, with lots of hope and optimism… Positive change is definitely in the air 🙂 x

    • Thanks for coming by Sharon! We watched the eclipse from the balcony of our home in Plettenberg Bay this morning, arrived ex Johannesburg yesterday. It was pretty nippy at 4.00 a.m. but so worthwhile (a cup of tea helped). And the sense of positive change is definitely in the air! 🙂

  5. You are most definitely in a birthing moment. So much happening. As you might imagine, I’m drawn to those mysterious ruins and what went on inside them.
    I’m looking forward to the power eclipse–and I don’t even have to stay up past midnight to see it. I love astronomy and astrology, but tipping my head back to view the heavens feels like a sacred act.
    Thanks Susan. Nice to have you back and I love your flowers.

    • Thanks so much for coming by Elaine. We’ll be down at the sea for a week leaving Sunday and maybe I’ll get up especially in the early hours to see the eclipse .. I love the image of the sacred act, thank you for saying so ..

  6. What an amazing update, Susan, vibrant, rich, alive – life is clearly happening. Loved soaking in your travels, connections, a sense of connectedness with other cultures – beautiful. Thank you!

  7. Hi Susan – you do have a mix here. Turkey – I’ve never been … one day I’d love to go and visit … I enjoy the films I see from Anatolia – it’s a stunning countryside. Looks like you did see loads and had a chance to mix with others from different countries.

    Your Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur … we do all need to take a look at ourselves and just settle into peaceful mode, at peace with all things, and encouraging others to be peaceful too …

    So glad the orchids fill your heart with joy … and South Africa – what can one say .. and they were playing 20 miles away too … but I was in London – post coming soon. I’ll watch some in the coming weeks – I enjoy it occasionally … and the South Africa winning the world cup was amazing.

    I’ve got the DVD here, and I read about it … along with other SA things recently … another post to do …

    Now you tell me I must keep my eyes heaven wards … on Saturday for another full moon – I love the idea of a blood moon .. if the weather is clear – I should have a good view … cheers and lovely to read your thoughts … cheers Hilary

    • Hi Hilary! Yes there was a lot to say in this mixed up post! Thank you muchly for coming by and reading it all 🙂

      At peace with all things – imagine. It starts with each of us.

      So, your evenings are getting longer ours shorter – I’ll also be looking heavenwards but I’m unsure about the very early hour to witness the blood moon.

      We play Samoa on Saturday – we HAVE to win to stay in the tournament. I’m getting anxious just thinking about it!

      Cheers to you Hilary and hope this finds you well, Susan

  8. Susan! Lovely post. I still have visions and clear memories of Turkey five years later. My three visits have left a lasting impression and had a huge effect on my life. I know as time passes, your experiences will sort themselves out and you will marvel at them again and again.

    • I remember that you’ve visited a few times Lesley and lasting impressions were made! Although we covered – at a guess – 1800 kms I know that we barely touched sides let alone the centre… I can imagine another visit sometime, with more time, footloose and fancy free. Thank you for coming by!

  9. Susan;
    This time of year is such a juxtaposition–like Istanbul uniting Europe and Asia. The opposites always go together and bring so much energy from that union…

  10. I’m glad you had a hospitable house, hubby, even orchids to welcome you home. What an interesting life you lead. The photos of Turkey are stunning. I once had a college student in my composition class from Turkey. He was so friendly and outgoing. I formed a very good impression of the Turkish people from this one young man.

    Looking forward to more!

    • Thanks Marian for coming by! The Turks seem to be really lovely outgoing people, physically too. Susan and I saw a young woman sitting on the steps of a mosque in Aksim Square (Istanbul) with her young son – she was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and her son just so lovely. And I remember a very old woman on the boat on the Bosphorus who was just beautiful too … the eyes had it …

  11. This was lovely, and reminds us of how the earth, seasons, and people are all so interconnected. Your photographs of Turkey are stunning. What a beautiful country! I’m glad you had such a great time–and that your husband stayed home to welcome you back!
    I don’t follow rugby (to be honest, I don’t follow any sports at all), but I’ve seen photos of Mr. Mandela from that event. It must have been stirring and inspiring.

    • Thank you Merril and for noting the interconnectedness of everything. The young New Zealand couple were also on this tour to inter alia visit Gallipoli and pay their respects to their fallen soldiers in WW1. This reminded me of interconnectedness in its way …

  12. Lovely post, Susan. I have the warmest memories from Turkey, so many years past and yet I remember Istanbul’s vibrancy, the old and new, as you said. We’re moving toward autumn here, but you’d never known it here in SoCal, where it continues to be hot, hot, hot.
    Glad you made it back home and all is well, and you’re feeling better. Nice to visit new and different places, but always nice to come home and resume life as we know it.

    • Thank you Silvia! You’re right, there’s something very special about returning home – with hopefully a broader view on things. May your Fall come soon and the heat lessen!

  13. Fantastic post, Susan! Glad to catch up with your adventures in Turkey; fascinating country, isn’t it? I was in Istanbul on a cruise many, many years ago, and had only a few hours to explore the city, but it made a mark. And the equinox! I hadn’t realized today’s the 21st — love these moments of pendulum reversal, so to speak, in the planet’s movements. Here’s to birth and rebirth, to change and motion and the beauty of it all.

    • Thanks so much Guilie! I can understand why people want to visit Turkey many times and a few I know have done so. I would love to explore it again – with more time. ‘Pendulum reversal’ – I love that. ‘Here’s to birth and rebirth, to change and motion and the beauty of it all’ – I love that too! Thank you 🙂

  14. I’ve been noticing those changes, too. At our family beach party, almost all the younger cousins were undergoing change (new school, new job, new relationship, new baby).

  15. Hallo Susan,

    welcome back. i enjoyed your post very much. You celebrating spring, me celebrating autumn. I like seeing your pictures and I wish i had visited Pamukkale. Those are on my list of things I want to see.


  16. Thank you for taking us on your memory trip. What a lovely description of an enjoyable visit to an ancient, gorgeous and wonderful country. I also found your entire blog so fun to read…as always.

  17. That title is a mouthful, but you cover it all well. I don’t follow rugby, but it’s one of those sports I think I’d enjoy watching if it was more available.

    • You bet it’s a mouthful! We were saying the other day that were the US to use some of their football players in rugby games, they’d thrash the living daylights out of all teams .. thanks for coming by Jacqui, and I THINK the US is in amongst the 20 countries ..

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