Sunday, September 05, 2010

Book Extract [from HEAVEN IS IN YOUR HEART]

Set Mandela Free

I am wandering the dusty courtyard of Robben Island with you.  You have come here with a small pixie haired girl who holds your arm and whispers into your ear.
Penguins glance at each other as I drift over the limestone quarry.  Dry dust follows me while the ocean, spreads magnificently towards the Antarctic, crawls towards the massive face of Table Mountain, and unfurls and swells across Three Anchor Bay.  It sparks this powerful South African sun off its waters.  You know, nowhere in the world does the sun shine as bright, through as painfully clear a sky, as it does here. 

The land is lifted from its heavy heart, because Nelson Mandela is free.  So, are you, today to be and to do whatever you believe.
Please wipe those tears from your face.
Please forget those lost years spent isolated and alone.
Please let go of all those things that were less than they could have been
You’re here, now.  Alive and free, in a country that is more beautiful and less cruel than it ever was.

Mandela’s free and the sun is shining, so I want you to step outside. Why have you come here to walk in derelict prisons?  He came here a long time ago.  It’s 35 years to this very day, that they took that man away.  Now it’s time to set yourself free.  Free from me, from any of the things that make you move through another day without giving voice or movement, or dance, to the great songs and lyrics burning inside your chest.  Will you die, as I have, with all those songs, unsung?  Will you wonder, at the end of your life, as I do, with these forlorn chants and hymns powering your lonely flight, a desperate drifting – like a leaf in search of the tree and the autumn when that season has passed altogether?
He was behind four walls through a hundred thousand nights and days, but his heart kept beating deep inside.

So if the tears are flowing wipe them from your face, and walk around your country and show the world that Nelson Mandela’s free.
His freedom is a triumph for all South Africans.
His freedom is a gift the people gave to themselves, and to the world.
And it is a gift, our humanity that we need, also to receive.
Nelson Mandela is alive and free.  And while he is we need to bring ourselves alive, and our country, to its full color.
It is such a fragile thing.  One life, dedicated to the truth.  But it is also strong and incorruptible.  But such a life, while it is alive, is as beautiful and unbreakable as a diamond.  You must make your life like a diamond.  Shine your truth, keep yourself bright and fierce and cool and clear.

I am with you as you move with the entourage to the boat, leaving the island prison behind.  I am there when the storm tosses the boat, making you and your girlfriend spit food into the churning sea.  I am there when the boat breaks on a wave, and you and they spill into the dark dark sea.
I am there when the helicopter comes and drops a long cord.  You attach yourself to it, the winch whines and you are resurrected; you and your girlfriend, and your companions in turn, from the heaving ocean that you fell into.  I float alongside you as the spray billows down under the whipping rotor blades.

Your skin is marble white with cold.
But your heart is melted.  It is a gold that is soft and warm and lively.  This is a wealthy resource, a heart of gold.  I saw it in you as a child, and here it is again. Use it.  It’s the stuff in the ground, under your feet, the heart of this country that you must enrich too.  Touch those around you.  Be enriched by your own essence.  Listen to your ancient soul.  You must not go outside of yourself, as I did.
Look inside.

You must not forlornly long and trust to a hope.  You must find the rope and attach it to yourself, and be pulled from the churning sea.  It is only after our actions, you see, that the feelings of motivation and inspiration follow.  Impel yourself.  Push through.  The only way is to make the way.
If only I had known that.  I was waiting, you see, for a change in the weather. 
But the agent of change must always be you, my son.
And you’re free, just like that man on the day he was sent to this island.
You’re free to be who you are no matter what happens to you.
You’re free to do what you can, wherever you are.
You’re free to enrich and be enriched by all things you do and feel where you walk in your country.

Your girlfriend draws herself against your big, warm swimmer’s chest.  She can feel your heart beating deep inside.
And now the helicopter turns and flattens the sea, and the dripping cargo shakes and shivers while the last of the boat sinks.  The island swings around you like a cork, and Cape Town mushrooms as you thunder towards it.

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