Conception, perception, deception –

We were down in Southbroom a town on the Kwa Zulu Natal South coast at the end of last month as guests of our friend Rory. The last time I was there was in late April 1987 when the men had a golf challenge among them. The memory then of standing in the garden looking out to the sea and knowing that my child to be was conceived the previous night is a memory that will always stay with me. David my younger son was born the following year in February1988 (two weeks late if anyone is doing any math).

When we were down at the end September, I said to Rory and reminded my husband that Davey was conceived here. Recently, Rory sent me a photo of the house as it was then (31 odd years ago) and pointed out that conception occurred in the bottom right hand room – the photo in the middle.So, I was pretty chuffed and emailed Rory to say so. It’s lovely to have this on record as it were. It’s also a reminder of my memory being a record of sorts of the following morning following conception looking out to the sea and already feeling the quickening – knowing that I was pregnant –

It was a very unusual feeling to be so certain of something, a feeling I am not familiar with, ie a feeling of certainty. Some things yes – the sun rises and sets, the moon is always there, the tides roll in and recede, the seasons change, the stars even if not visible are always there in all their glory, we sleep we wake we go on about our day –

Bombs fall drought famine fires hurricanes the sands always shifting as people escape their place of origin. Rape, corruption, lies, blame, denial, obfuscation, destruction,  we sleep we wake we go on about our day –

A few mornings ago I took this photo of the jacarandas from my study. I felt a quickening of a different sort – a sort of stillness, paradoxical though this is –

My son returned to South Africa last Wednesday after being away in Europe for 3 months with his wife Jüte who flew straight back down to Cape Town while David stayed for several days with us. He flew back to Cape Town last night. He and his father went for a swim last Friday late afternoon. David took this photo when walking back to the townhouse. The moon will be full on Tuesday or Wednesday …

I took a few today of different trees just outside our townhouse – the colour is always different.

Does my perception of the world change a little when I see beauty and colour and growth and the different shades of light at different times? Yes, it does. It reminds me that the light changes and has an effect on things. When a storm brews and all goes dark and there’s grumbling thunder that matches my mood. Though the light-ning can be scary.

Here in South Africa much is happening. A very brave young woman is giving testimony about her being groomed by a pastor in her church and the sexual abuse she has suffered. Thankfully she is being supported by everyone including the ANC Women’s League and the  ANC Youth League. His church has been shut down. He’ll be facing the music this coming week. Those involved in state capture (R100 bn at last count) are being brought to account. Justice is being served. The deception has lasted too long. 

So, I sleep and wake and go about my day – I hear and read about protests often violent, strikes, train & bus crashes, trains deliberately set alight, shacks being burned, rising fuel prices, a barely moving economy. I find myself sitting in the opposites of the chaos of the world and my world and the beauty of the natural world. The tension is  unbearable. I sometimes write down precipitations, a form of prayer, a conception, an intercession, and then leave it to go where it will into the atmosphere – and I find stillness if even for a moment …

Creation and destruction, deception and denial, the search for truth has been around forever. I grieve for the family and fiancé of Kamal Khoshoggi and with all who find the circumstances of his death so abhorrent.

And I always ponder on the male and female energies and the need for them to merge, with inception, conception and intention –

Thank you for reading. May you always find your stillness in the midst of it all. And thanks to Jan who provided the above image the day after our reading group last Monday evening …

45 comments on “conception perception deception”

  1. This is a wonderful meditation on life and the tension between the evil that seems to be expanding around the world. I love the idea that good must be growing in equal balance. I see that we both contribute to #WATWB, seeking out and sharing the good news stories. Thanks for the follow. I spent 17 months living and working on the coast south of Durban. I also am occasionally in touch with a former class mate who is now retired but lives somewhere up there near Johannesburg where he ran a successful business for many years.

  2. Love your blog. I too have very fond memories of the beauty in Morningside and hope like you that equal light is growing out of the darkness. Love Sheila

  3. How nice to hear of a sexual abuse case actually being taken seriously. I hope that poor woman finds justice.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and photos. The world is often a scary place these days.

    • Thanks Holli – that pastor takes the stand today. I’m just hoping that there isn’t a ‘technicality’ that gets him off which often happens even the the accused is clearly guilty.

  4. Ah, Susan, reading your blog is like a balm for the soul. The world is a crazy place these days and moments of stillness are so very important. Some days you just need to divest yourself of it all in order to be at peace. And I love your story about the quickening. I have had a few of those moments of certainty myself, few and far between, but it’s amazing when it happens. :0)

    • Thanks Pam for coming by. So much good is being done in the world while Rome fiddles. I know you do much in terms of environmental matters. It’s these individual and collective acts for the betterment of all that have a positive effect. And our growing awareness of the wrongs that have to be righted. But heavens, the wheels turn slowly 🙂

  5. Susan, there is something hauntingly beautiful in the clarity of your post today. I feel as though you and S Africa are emerging, slowly, from a very dark period and you find reason to hope, to hang on. For that I am very grateful for you give me hope that eventually my country will also emerge from this darkness we have fallen into. But I too feel a certainly in my belly — that things here will get much worse before they get better. I want to add “if ever,” but do not because of the hope you have given me that there is still magic in the world. We must speak, even if our voice shakes. (incorrectly attributed to Maggie Kuhn).

    • Thanks so much Janet – what strange times we live in. Hope is such a strange and ephemeral thing. But I guess this veering between hope and despair is part of sitting in the tension of the opposites and experiencing both sides of the coin. We’ve got to hang on. I watch the events in the US and elsewhere with a keen interest in wondering how the collective is a reflection of the individual which I think it is. From the microscopic (individual) to the macroscopic.

      Good luck for the 6th Nov .. the skies are blue today, may they show more blue on Nov 6th. May the voices shake and be heard!

  6. Your beautiful photos of your world during your Spring reminds you of your conceiving your sons. What glorious memories. However, here in the states as our Winter approaches our thoughts are black and bleak with the deception of political issues. As people keep reminding me… there IS LIGHT at the end of the storm. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. <3

    • Thanks for coming by Gwynn. Politics brings out the worst in people. What is that saying: Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely: Lord Acton … are you hopeful about the Nov 6th voting? I read about those who have a postal address and not a residential address not being allowed to vote …

      • I definitely have my fingers crossed that the November election has the Democrats overtaking the House of Representatives. I have not kept up with the various voting issues, but I know there is some form of problem. Trump is trying to keep people from “cheating.” However, I have a friend who lives in a rural area and uses a Postal address as she travels a lot and she does not want her mail stolen, which is another big problem here, so she uses a postal address. The craziness that is taking place here is horrific! It is SO SAD!

  7. In 1973, when my second son was conceived in Italy, I knew it immediately. We were traveling with our 2 1/2 year old so my husband could present an astronomy paper at a conference and found a hotel in Trevi with a small side-room where our son could sleep.

    There is so much darkness and hate being spewed here in the United States. We haven’t seen anything this ugly for a long time. I walk through my fields where the trees didn’t turn their usual autumn colors (possibly because of constant flooding rain this summer, but who knows–the leaves turned brown and fell to the ground). It feels as though the earth is grieving, too. There are trees here and there with a bright branch to help me trust that color will return next year. Thank you, Susan. Hang on to the balance of opposites. Hang on to the light and the spectacular color of those trees.

    • Trevi! How lovely to be conceived there! Does your son know?

      I am worried that the rains may be late or scarce up here on the highveld. We’ve had a bit so far, but there’s some serious catching up to do. But may that bright branch that you’ve seen Elaine also be a metaphor for other bright branches to appear. It’s a pretty full moon tonight and I gather the feminine forces are well energised. So may these be the bright branches that bring light … and bring relief to our grieving earth.

      I’ve just edited the dates in my post – I was out by 10 years. 1997 should have read 1987; 1998 should have read 1988.

      Thank you so much for coming by –

  8. Whew Sis! Great post! I feel emotionally tangled up!

    I didn’t know that beautiful story about David’s conception. Can’t wait to hear about Mike!.
    It’s another great post you put up….I feel I now understand better the emotions I have been feeling of late. Such uncertainty in this world – I feel as if it’s all going to blow up, and that that will be a great release from all the violence this earth is experiencing – from the depths of her oceans up into the skies.

    Then the beauty of the jacarandas, the sweet smell of a flower, the waves crashing on the shores, a child responding gladly to me.

    Love and light

    • Thanks sweet sis for coming by! Glad the post helped you re your emotions. Your response re the ‘blow up’ is wonderfully graphic 🙂

      Mike’s conception – or the aftermath of it – is lovely. Both boys and some friends know it. I’m sure you do too ..

      Yes I know how you appreciate nature – and the image of your beautiful grandsons responding gladly to you is lovely ..

    • Thanks Donna so much for your generous comment! I don’t always focus on the light … the darkness is just as important as out of that morass can come a lightening of the dark if we truly pay attention to it and not avoid it 🙂

  9. Wonderful post, Susan.
    I know exactly when both daughters were conceived, too–both February babies. 🙂
    I’m sorry and sad that things in S. Africa, but as you say, we will keep looking for the light.
    I’m glad you were able to see friends and your son.
    Lovely photos, too.

  10. Beauty and ugliness, order and chaos have always coexisted, but I too sometimes feel tension observing all this. Thus, I contribute to restoring homes in Panama City after the horrid hurricane in Florida, send dollars to help a village on the other side of the world drill a well. It’s the least I can do.

    I believe your husband has recently retired. I hope he is enjoying his new status and you fitting into the new rhythm. Thank you for the story of your child’s conception. I know absolutely I was conceived on my parents’ honeymoon, possible their wedding night. I also have a photo of their standing in front of a stone cabin near Niagara Falls after the fact. Ha!

    • Thanks Marian for coming by! Yes we do what we can when we can. We’re very fortunate that we CAN do this. As a friend said a long time ago when there were moves afoot for a tax revolt (tax payers going on strike), it is a privilege to be able to pay taxes …

      Neil has not yet retired … it’ll be the end of this week and then next week moving stuff out of the rooms. Things to be shredded – among other things. Big task ahead!

      Great about knowing your date of conception too! How lovely to be with them among stone and water – even if just a microscopic dot 🙂

    • Thanks Mike! I’ve just done an edit now that I’m home from reading gp and given Jan the credit for the great graphic. (Shall I tell about your conception? It’s such a lovely story!)

  11. I am pretty worried about South Africa. You hearten me hearing that the danger seems to be in pockets. Much as it is here in the US. It seems Antifa controls downtown Portland–with the permission of the Mayor! and San Francisco is overtaken with feces, drug paraphernalia and disease.

    I just don’t get it. Times change I suppose. Stay safe and positive.

    • I think and hope we’ll get through this Jacqui … the wheels of justice are turning, slow they may be. I dunno, maybe things have to get even worse and really hit rock-bottom and then the only way is up? I know that much is grim in the US. I added now when I got home after my reading group about Jamal Khoshoggi .. and one or two other edits .. You too stay safe and positive. And thank you for coming by ..

  12. I love those jacarandas in bloom. We have those trees all around in the neighborhoods that surround our gated community. The purple blossoms sure are beautiful, but they leave one heck of a mess after they’ve dropped to the ground.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    • Ah so you get them too Arlee – aren’t they beautiful! I even like them on the ground making such a pretty carpet. But I have to be careful not to bring them into the house on the soles of my shoes because they do make a stain! Thank you for coming by!

  13. Dear Susan, Thank you for writing and sharing more of your beautiful words of wisdom. I just love your title! How remarkable it must be to know “exactly” where your son was conceived and for there to be a photo of the house as it was from that exact moment in time! What a joyful, timeless embrace from the universe and your dear friend!

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Jacaranda tree before, so your lovely photos are a real treat for me here in the UK … wow, the intensity of the colour is stunning! A quick google has led me to discover that if one of the trees flowers were to fall on a student’s head (folklore tale) they’ll pass all of their exams. A “quickening” oh I just love that poetic description.

    Halleluiah! It’s so encouraging news to read about the brave young woman giving testimony, and breaking the silence of her abuse. Hopefully justice will carry the day for many in South Africa who have suffered greatly in recent times! It’s great to hear from you on these matters as you’re there, literally on the ground, sharing your deep truths.

    When you write about the unbearable tension of holding the opposites I found myself almost in tears and agreement. Like many, there are times when I think I’d go crazy if it wasn’t for the beauty and grace of the natural world! Thank you so much for the perfect reminder. As always, another great post! Love and light, Deborah.

    • Dear Deborah, thank you for your lovely comment. I love that you say about the ‘…joyful, timeless embrace from the universe and your dear friend’. You’ve said it so perfectly because that it was I felt though didn’t have the words for it. Rory will always have a special place in my heart for his sending me the photo which of course I showed David when he was here – I emailed it to him so he’s got it on record.

      I haven’t heard about the jacaranda leaves falling on a student’s shoulder ensure they will pass their exams! Though it’s legend that if the student hasn’t started swotting by the jacarandas bloom, then it’s too late!

      The tension of the opposites and just sitting in it and not jumping out of the flames … it’s the hardest thing. Thankfully mother nature is there to remind us of the beauty in the world. Love and lightness to you Deborah. Susan

  14. This is such a beautiful meditation on the shifting balance required in these times, a kind of attuned attentiveness like someone balancing on a tightrope. I doubt that there is almost anywhere on the planet where this isn’t a necessity at this time. Our ‘safe haven’ in Canada has been shaken with a rising wave of populism quite uncharacteristic to the rather gentle Canadian psyche. What has been unleashed in the collective consciousness that is armoured and angry has permeated beyond all borders, requiring all of us to find a new inner balance. You speak about this beautifully. I am grateful, knowing a little of what you are holding on the other side of the globe. Also, I love the story of you sharing the deep body-knowing of your conception. I sense many of us are ‘pregnant’ with new life but not always as sensitive to what this means… Blessings!

    • Thank you Andrea for your lovely comment. I share your view of the collective unconscious being unleashed and affecting/infecting us all until such time as we address this enormous shadow that yearns for the light. Yes, I also see moments that are pregnant. I’m aware of populism arising in Canada sad to say. No one is immune it seems. More than ever we need to hold fast to our centre … Blessings to you too. Susan

  15. Amazing, those jacarandas.

    It’s a deeply satisfying sensation to know something for certain. I had the same experience on the day my son was conceived, a vivid memory of time and place ☼

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