Saturday, September 6, 2014

God In Small Things.

Winter hasn’t quite left and I love it for staying a little longer. Tonight we sat by a crackling fire, sipping green tea with Jasmine. Very unlike us. Just sayin’. He spoke of finding god in small things, like that last bit of cotton to mend the hole in the mosquito net, one more match to light the candle, bumping into an old friend when you’re least expecting it, finding a phone voucher. If there is a god, it’s true. God really is in small surprises, the chocolate miraculously on the pillow, a kind gesture. I said I thought God was in my hot showers, in this perfect fire,in that precise moment when I lay my weary head onto my pillow.  I thought about all my favourite sounds: the crackling fire, the trill of the nightjars, soft rain on the roof, the hooting of the owls before dawn on my roof, last night's dreams in their talons, a soft wind through the acacias, the sigh of the appaloosa.

We rode out today again, Marco and I. Marco is the syce. He’s been working with horses since he was 14. All his life. He is definitely a horse fundi. He rides the little appaloosa called Sukari which means sugar in Swahili. He should be called Hot Popcorn. He’s unquestionably the finest lil fire hearted pony this side of the equator. I ride The General De La Rey, the big appaloosa, "Big like a buffalo," says Marco. He is my soul horse. We’ve ridden out over other plains in other lives, that’s for sure. A rollicking canter down dusty tracks scoured by winds and rain, by old tractors and bicycles and hooves, lifts the heart and polishes the soul. It births courage and a sense of freedom and trust.You feel alive. You remember. 

Marco is a man of God and a bloody good rider. He used to be called Mohammed. On our rides, we talk of the world and the way it's woven with marriage, witchcraft, farming methods, politics, wars, religion, quantum physics, whether I am a witch, spirits, healing and whether God exists. I always play the devil's advocate on god matters. He mentioned the riots in Ferguson the other day.
“The world really is upside down,” he said.
I couldn’t disagree. 
“Did you read about the troubles in Ferguson anyway?” he asked.
“Yes. Yes. I did. Terrible about the police killing that young man, eh?” 
Marco looked sideways at me and said,” The world is very confused. They make such a fuss over that? Causing riots and looting? He was a thief after all!” 
There is no smudging of truths here. No.

'Round here, horses are a novelty, an event, it seems. Children run excited through the dry maize fields, forgetting their bovine charges, “ Farasi! Farasi!” (Horse! Horse!) Marco tells them not to run too close because the horse could bite their heads off or that horses don’t like ‘kilele’ (noise). Mostly, they don't seem to care. A woman nervously wishes us a hastey, “Safari njema.” Someone else laughs and tells us she’s terrified of the horses. “But when are you going to give me a lift?” 
Marco always says, “Tomorrow. We’ll be back tomorrow.” 
It is becoming old. 
“But you said that last time…”
One day we will. We really will. Just not this afternoon.

This afternoon Marco said, “Let’s ride up that hill over there…” It’s high and far and tempting. And it’s, well, there. There was no reason not to. 

We passed a Maasai girl, tall and slim as a reed.
 “Where are you going?” 
Marco pointed over his horse's ears, “ We are going to the top of that hill to talk to God.” I grimaced and rolled my eyes. No one saw. I didn’t want them to. She looked skywards.
“ Well, you won’t find God up there. You should go up that hill,” and she pointed to a hill behind me, “ because that’s where God is. That is where you talk to God.” I looked behind me and saw Ngorobob Hill. 

We walked on anyway. The climb was steep and rocky.
“ At least we know that the horses will stop if a snake is in the grass,” I slyly mention. 
“They feel the vibrations on their bellies and they escape. Snakes are like that. . .” 
But not if it's a puff-adder, I wanted to say.

At the top the wind was icy and relentless. Wild. The trees were stunted and crooked from years of winds. Below us the landscape fell, sweeping out like a frozen ruffled sea. Even the horses stopped, heads up, ears forward, surveying their crinkled kingdom, criss-crossed with black cotton soiled veins. We sat silently in the saddles, like cowboys on a mission without Malboros, bandanas or Stetsons. I imagined riding to Lokasali and camping out in gypsy tents.

After a while, we turned the horses homewards, zig zagging carefully downwards, the wind at our backs, the sun low on our left, and rode, as if in a dream, back to The Hill Where God is.
For some. 


donna baker said...

So beautiful Janelle. Just beautiful. Marco is very wise indeed. May I ask, what is a nightjar?

Janelle said...

Thanks , Donna! A nightjar is a nocturnal bird. There are different species here. They make the most beautiful liquid calls, especially at twilight . Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. X

Elizabeth said...

A wonderful essay as ever - combining all those things you are so good at - and so splendidly evocative of our search for 'other' in both the ordinary and extraordinary.
Cheers from much too hot New York!

Slim Paley said...

Beautiful. The unfiltered truth and candour of youth.

Janelle said...

thanks ELizabeth! hope NYC cools down soon! isn't autumn on its way? x janelle

Thank you so much Slim! Lovely that you stopped by and left a comment. Much appreciated. x Janelle

timothymarcjones said...


Family Affairs said...

CHOCOLATES ON YOUR PILLOW?? Who does that for you? Lovely post, but frankly marred by that vision which is so lovely that I completely had to skim over the God bit....Love you!! Lx

Amanda Summer said...

This is the kind of writing that transports me. Your words describing where we find God - and Goddess - will stay with me, I imagine, for a long time.
I live not far from that place your friend speaks of, Ferguson. As tragic as that event was - it has started some people on a different path, a path towards healing, towards not letting that young man's death be in vain. A path towards a life with greater understanding, dare I say, respect between citizens and police But your friend's words about Mike Brown are wrong. Was he a thief? There is no way to prove that now that he is dead. He did not deserve to be killed by the police. But your friend's remarks about all the fuss and riots reflects a deep issue. There is pain and suffering all over the world, why this issue, why now? Why was the world watching so closely?
But the rest of Marco's statements, his approach to the world does recall that of Kazantzakis' Zorba, a character whose detached, dispassionate response to issues such as death is paired with an equally exuberant embrace of life itself. Such is the ambivalent nature of life.

Janelle said...

Dear Amanda. Thank you for your heart felt response to my post. You're absolutely spot on. You got it. It's this which we deal with each day here...the anti thesis or morals, emotions - to death, to justice, to what we consider is fair and right. What a mix the world is... ❤️🙏 x janelle

Wellington Park said...

nicely done. tis interesting, when visiting certain places - usually some place naturally beautiful and perhaps mysterious - that's when seemingly unanswerable questions pop up.

of course, it also seems humans tend to answer the unanswerable with myths and the illogical. rarely do you hear, "I must go to an academic place and study to understand what I have just seen and sensed."