I read to re-discover lost territory in me

So our Central City library shared reading group was formed by poaching from the book club formed by the Central Library in partnership with the City Mission that meets on Wednesdays. There are some big spontaneous personalities within the group along with peacemakers and more considered, reflective people. This dynamic leads to some feisty conversation, we tend to be fearless and open in sharing our opinions and thoughts. It sometimes feels like a family arguing around the dinner table. (One of our members does bring excellent food from the Mission…so we tend to have a good spread along with the obligatory biscuits and tea.)

Last week we had a vigorous exchange on the topic of the church. Some members of the group maintained that Christians could be judgemental. One usually peaceful woman passionately defended the church and said that she gets sick of people attacking Christians because when she was on the streets it was only Christians who had reached out to her, giving her food and compassion. The Church doorway itself was a safe, dry place to sleep. I found myself wondering about our level of intensity in conversation… would new group members feel welcome or overwhelmed?

Yesterday we were reading a South African story and we got into an argument about what multiculturalism means. We had quite a large group of 12, some of whom hadn’t been with us for a while. Some of the easygoing people were feeling provoked and getting their backs up. A new woman had joined us, she was quite quiet and I wondered what she was making of our dysfunctional family vibe. At the end of the session she piped up over some louder members of the group and drew our wandering galactic space junking discussion firmly back on topic like a shooting star. She insisted “We are multicultural here in this group, look around…” She continued, gracefully connecting our poem back to our story, saying that it was about being on the cusp of two worlds (the inner and outer) like the boy in our story (Bloodsong by Ernst Havemann). She then said that the poem also reflected our experience in shared reading, that she had been having a really crappy day and the session had helped her, taken her out of her problems and that we were in it together.

My fear that new group members may feel shut down or shut out dissipated as I realised that she was right, the group should function as a safe space to express ourselves differently or experimentally. We don’t know what we are capable of until we are thrown in the deep end, by sharing reading we may re-discover lost territory in ourselves and others.

I write to re-discover lost territory in me

I write to re-discover lost territory in me

To uncover the power
Beneath my shell
I write for my well-being
I write to cleanse my inner space
To quiet the traffic in my head
I write so I can actually sleep when I fall into bed
I write to remember the reasons I am here
To see the lessons
In the choices I’ve made
I write to offer the best of myself
My truth
My creativity
The music in me
I write to express my love
My meaning
To navigate into the unknown
I write to be honest With myself
And with you
I am sometimes unable to do
I write in answer to a longing
That lives with me each day
A yearning for balance
For equilibrium
For re-union
I write to feel my way along the path
I write to free the language of my heart

Malika Ndhlovu

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