A collection of recollections at Cathcart

Imagine this…

A town located in the Eastern Cape, so small at the foot of a hill, that you can miss it in the blink of an eye.

A policeman with a gentle soul.

A double decker bus and art.

Coffee. It had never tasted that good. They say it is about who you drink it with.


An inevitable part of life is death. 

Driving away 2 hours later, what just happened? 

Eyes full of tears and a smile. 

Are you curious?  Let’s see if you can piece the picture together…

Part 1: The Burning Bus

Moses had to turn aside to see the burning bush. I wonder how many burning bushes we miss, in the name of productivity and busyness, on our path to success? 

Not stopping to ask why. 

Nor noticing the direction we are heading in. 

You can become the hamster in the turn wheel. Going nowhere at a rapid rate. 

With that said, I see a sign that reads, double decker bus and yard art, and I turn aside at the foot of the Cathcart hill, to see…

Looking back now, I’m glad I did. A moment can alter a life path. A moment can serve as a compass pointing towards a true north.  The significance of the alteration cannot be comprehended by the duration of the moment. The duration of a moment can be less than a second. It can be the time it takes for a tear to form and well up in your eyes, and then gracefully drizzle down your cheeks.  It can be in the small distance of the lines in your face as a smile takes its shape.  It can be on the back of a soft breeze meeting grass in the veldt where you sit. This moment was one of those moments, I realized driving away as I was rejoining the same path as before but now with tears in my eyes, coffee in my belly and a prayer in my heart. My path is altered. My compass adjusted. Something pointing a slight bit more in the direction of my true north. 

There is a special space inside of me where a projector screens sacred moments like these. Flashing feelings on my heart that points towards something. While writing this,

the words “each other” and “exchanging God in the subtext” finds me and settles in, within me…

May you spot the burning bus on your path.

May you be curious.

May you stop. May you turn aside to see.

May you hear God in the eyes you find in front of you. 

May grace move through you.

May you listen.

Part 2: Walking Home

Drinking coffee…

It’s never tasted that good. They say it’s about who you drink it with…

There was a feeling of every sip being just a sip and significant all at once. 

He showed me his double decker bus and his yard art. The bus was full of second hand things, old tea sets, old suitcases, an old typewriter, most things in the bus were old. He also showed me his art. It was installations that he made from scrap metal in his yard. It made me feel. It made me pray. 

I felt everything was there, I felt something was not there, I felt God was everywhere.

“She passed away a month ago” he said in a way which acknowledged all of what that means. 

Before leaving I said, “There’s something inside the bus I want to buy”

“Sure” he said

“Can I have a tomato relish please?”

“My wife still made that you know”

“I’m sorry. Are you sure you want to sell it then?”

“Yes. That’s why she made it, I’d be glad to sell it.” He said smiling. 

There’s a certain responsibility for those left behind to ask; What had they expected of me? Had hoped for me? Had wished to happen to me?

Perhaps, we are who we are today because of decades of two becoming one. 

You’ve spent a lifetime walking her home. And her presence within you will walk with you the rest of the way too. 

That evening when I ate her tomato relish on my bread, my eyes started tearing again. “This can’t just be it”, i heard myself whisper into a dark nothingness later that night.  Then, her presence whispered back at me from within me, 

“it’s not”  

I met her through you that day. She still visits me sometimes in those still moments. She appears as goosebumps over my skin and tears in my eyes sometimes when I drink my morning coffee. She is a reminder to the question; Why am I here? 

We do not leave things behind. We leave ourselves behind. We leave this earth and we make a home in the hearts of those who love us deeply.

Part 3: Lost and Found

He takes junk as he calls it, old scrap metal and makes art with it. I particularly love the term he sometimes used; junk art. The contradiction of those two words next to each other felt profound to me at first, but I couldn’t put my finger on it then. I started wondering, are those pieces of junk or art? Are those pieces lost or found?

Beauty lies within the awareness of the fragility of life. The difference between lost and found lies within the eye of the creator. He sees it before it is formed. It is grace unfolding.

Grace is that unexplained force that nurtures us. It gives us eyes to see that which is lost as found. That which is junk as art. He sees art. His art made me see with grace. Grace invites us to love deeply, others and firstly ourselves. 

His art made me feel. It made me pray. For it asked me questions, deep, personal and important. I wasn’t able to merely observe, I had to participate. Inside those four walls where the roof was long gone, was one of his art installations. The floor was the earth beneath our feet and plants and lizards had made it their home, He sat there in the corner and I participated. In front of me was a cross taller than I was, made from junk – old scrap metal. I stood behind three men, made from junk too, praying at the cross. How imperfectly perfect it all was. Just like us. 

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“There where all the plants are, are more pieces of scrap. You can hang a piece on the cross and say a prayer, if you like?” He said.

I didn’t know what to pray for then, it still felt like there was more, it wasn’t finished yet. So I listened; what did God want to say here? God listened too.

We all enjoyed the sun and the silence together. Me, him, and God. 

That night after her presence whispered back to me; “It’s not”

A prayer from the bottom of my heart made its way out with the words, “thank you”

Part 4: Building Better Bridges

A policeman with a gentle soul…

I see a sign that reads, double decker bus and yard art, and I turn aside at the foot of the Cathcart hill, to see…

A police van pulled in behind me and parked next to me. The man was out first and the two of them were standing in the sun and chatting. They waved for me to come join them, and I did. 

The conversation started light. The policeman asked me about my yellow van, my journey and my dog Benji. He started telling me about his friend’s art and suggested he should show me. I suggested we should make some coffee, they agreed.

While his friend was away making coffee for us, the policeman and I were chatting. He was a gentle soul. He asked questions and listened well. He told me more about the art and the work of his friend. He said that his friend actually wrote a book too, with some stories and poems (I’ve read them since and it’s great!). I am grateful for the inquisitive and gentle spirit of the policeman. When there are laws to govern us, we tend to tighten up and rebel against them. But when we are guided by love, we open up.

A friend meets you where you are and gives you that which is alive within them. 

When the coffee arrived we moved through the yard from one installation to the next. With each one, listening and watching and then while we walk to the next one, chatting. The policeman was a type of bridge between the two of us. He would ask questions to get us talking. And we did. He said his well wishes to both of us before we got to the cross. 

Have you ever felt that someone had a massive impact in your life, but you can’t explain what? Do you remember such moments with people, but can’t remember their name? Meeting the policeman was one of those moments. He simply cared about his friend. He didn’t care to be known or remembered. Yet I’ll never forget him.

May you spot the burning bush on your path.

May you be curious.

May you stop. May you turn aside to see.

May you hear God in the eyes you find in front of you.

May grace move through you.

May you listen.

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Bookshelf suggestions for a Curious Reader:

If you are interested to get a copy of his book, its filled with beautiful poems and the most intriguing short stories, send me a mail at jaco@onthepathlesspath.co.za

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