About a week ago I had just finished facilitating a workshop at the Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery. It was about 7.00pm in the evening. and it had been raining. As I opened the door to get into the car I saw a little nest – a bird’s nest stuck on my windscreen by the rainwater. It was made from grass and leaves and feathers, and looked do soft and comforting. A little home, I thought as I picked it up and put on the backseat. It now sits on my bookshelf with a little paper heart resting in it. What strikes me, though, is my sense of the nest being significant.
On one level, I feel it is significant because I have been nesting – creating a nest for my family. This is partly what happens when you have a baby, and something that needs to happen every once in a while, because everyone gets so busy with their own lives, that the soft threads that hold you together as a family start to fray, and you need to pay attention again, and weave them strong again. So I have been making home a soft place for all of us to land in these challenging times… and I think it is more than that.
The Art Gallery is a place that draws me to it – and I follow the pull of place. I have a firm belief in the power of place – places either talk to me, or they don’t. Some places draw me all the time, and some only for a season. Rust-en-Vrede draws me in a special way. It is a lovely old building, with wooden floors, high ceilings set in a lovely garden with lots and lots of old trees. It is a warm place to come to.
A few months ago, I spent the day there, working on my laptop. As I walked from my car towards the little coffee shop, I felt the soft caress of the breeze on my cheeks, and there was something about the light of day, the breeze and the sound of the birds that felt like I was back home, in Uganda, except that it was as if my home in Uganda was visiting me and the Gallery. It was as if my home of origin was visiting my new home. I have never experienced anything like that. And that was not the end. Later, as I sat under the trees, at a table, eating my lunch, I felt the presence of my late father, and my late sister Fay – whose presence I had not felt in a while. And I felt as if my father wanted me to tell the story of my mother – of how she held us all together through all the challenges, and to let her know how much we knew it was her, holding us all together, and how much we love and appreciate her. And so I am going to do that.