Grey morning light filtered through the attic window. On a visit to a dear friend in Germany, I lay comfy in a narrow bed, a feather down duvet keeping me cosy. I was looking forward to a day of happy companionship, meaningful conversation and shopping, so why did I harbour a slight feeling of unease, a sense that something, a vague something, was not quite right with my world?
I lay musing for a while, until at last the answer dawned: in the obscure depths of my psyche dwelled a slogan, words I saw but hardly noticed, on my desk calendar, sent every year as a Christmas gift from my parents when I was away at boarding school in Richmond Park, and later, living in central London: ‘IT’S SUNNY TODAY IN SOUTH AFRICA’.
Subconsciously, I expected to wake up to sunshine — a deep expectation from my childhood and other years living in Johannesburg.
“Essen!” Barbel’s bright voice wafted up to me, called me down to breakfast.
Outside, the streets were grey, the buildings and houses usually of grey stone or brick. But downstairs on the starched, white tablecloth, an already-lit candle cast a golden glow. All was well. My world had been transformed by the light of recognition.
And when I returned to our Cape farm the different quality of the light struck me: how bright it was, how yellow… like a stage scrim lifted away from my eyes.
It was sunny, that day, in South Africa.
Sunlight, moonlight, starlight —
too much earthlight
which obscures and dims
what we might receive
from the heavens,
one day, one morning,