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I used to run

I used to run from you


that in your cool embrace there was an


of all that I ached for


That wounds would sing louder

in your presence,

That smallness and insecurity would emerge

and engulf the self

I had spent so many earnest, neon hued hours


into shape

Its not that I’m more courageous now

but perhaps this laboriously constructed ‘me’  has been pummelled

long and hard enough

to realise that

all the true words

really are

safe in your keeping


So here I am

unclothed and vulnerable

a naked sparrow at the mouth

of the ocean


Speak to me



Tell me what

the wise ones



Maithri Goonetilleke

Copyright 2011




The airy sky has taken its place leaning against the wall.
It is like a prayer to what is empty.
And what is empty turns its face to us
and whispers:
“I am not empty, I am open.”

~ Tomas Tranströmer


Today is a new Day
~ Chicken Little


Liberating ourselves from our stories

Each of us has a story. Every story has a pulse, a rhythm. Yet the heart beat of  the story we tell the world, is seldom as real as our own heartbeat. The colours of our history never truly capture the spectrum of light and shadow in which we are earthed.

Perhaps this is because the arms of a single linear story line are simply too small to wrap around the vastness of  being which resides in any human person. Some part of us always remain untold.

I’ve noticed that the way in which someone initially relates to me is coloured by the story which they have of me. If they know me as a doctor who works in Africa, their attitude may be quite different to if they know me as a singer or that ‘young brown guy who lives  down the street’. In all these settings I haven’t changed, and yet I’m perceived differently.

Alas at days end we have no control over how others will perceive us. It occurs completely and discretely within their own central nervous system. It would seem that linear thinking requires less cognitive effort.  Far easier it is to believe that what is on the surface is true of the whole, than to allow for layered or multidimensional humanity. So for many of us the initial interface between two people involves a  kind of simple mental algebra, which allows us to disengage from uncertainty and mystery and neatly label another as good, bad, or ugly.

Far easier than influencing anothers perception is re-examining how we perceive ourselves. Stories are powerful and there are certain archetypes of behaviour and mythologies of being which facilitate human development. However the danger is that we get caught up in a single story line and limit our own unfolding.

So what is the story of ‘you’ that you tell yourself? Is it life enhancing or is it limiting? Is it time to tell yourself another story?

Or perhaps it is time to cut the ties of our stories all together, to dissect our souls from the hype which surround them and liberate ourselves into the fullness and richness of a life unencumbered by conformity.


So good to be blogging again!

100,000 Monks in prayer - Luke Duggleby

Great to be in this space again…

I read these words by social scientist Margaret Wheatley today which resonated:

“There is no more powerful way to initiate significant social change than to start a conversation.”

Thats what blogging is about to me…A dialogue between friends which catalyses growth.

So feel free to browse around. To comment on any post just click on the heading ;). I love hearing your voices!


Talking about Extreme Poverty: A video blog

A new video blog….

Sibusiso when I first met him

Sibusiso 6 years later


Love Transcends…

“All human thought transcending… “


Attitude Affects Reality

When you know that everything happens for the best, then everything that happens is okay with you. The irony of this is that when everything that happens is okay with you, you set up an energy field of such equanimity and harmony with the universe that the universal law of attraction draws more equanimity and harmony into your life. ~ Neale Donald Walsch


Gogo Frances – A tribute

When Frances hugged you, you stayed hugged.

I remember her standing in church, or in her one bedroom Unit in the Yernga Village with arms stretched wide, ready to embrace me. ‘There’s my pin-up boy’ she would say with light flecked eyes, and I would smile and say “How are you, beautiful?”

I loved Frances Bennett.

I am concerned that if I told you that Frances was a silver haired great grandmother, it might conjure up images of staid, frail old women in rocking chairs. So instead let me just say that Frances was timeless. Her signature was joy. 

I remember visiting her after her hip operation, “How are you beautiful?” I asked…. “I’m tip top!” I can hear her say, laughter echoing in her voice as she lay on her hospital bed. Frances was never the kind to complain about anything.

One day about 6 years ago I was visiting her after my very first trip to Swaziland. I was in my final year of medicine and I had undertaken an elective working in the rural areas of the Lubombo mountains. At the time in Siteki, there were more coffin salesmen than grocery stores due to the ravages of HIV/AIDS. Over a cup of tea I sat on her little couch and shared with her my pictures and stories of a gracious people suffering under the weight of extreme poverty and disease. Among other things I told her of a little carepoint for orphans and vulnerable children where 200 children would come for a meal each day. A few good people had started building a structure to shelter these children but funds and enthusiasm had run dry and they had left, leaving just a few bricks and many dissapointed children. She listened and wiped tears away as she heard my stories.

“I wish there was something I could do to help.” she said.

 “Your prayers and love are help enough, dear Frances” I told her. 

A week later I received a call from my friend. Her voice sounded somehow different and I was concerned. 

“Maithri, I need you to come and see me.”

“What’s happened?” I asked, “Is everything ok? Are you hurt?”

I rushed over to her home and she invited me in.

“Sit down, close your eyes and hold out your hands” she told me.

With a trembling hand she placed a piece of paper in mine.

As I opened my eyes I saw a cheque. I made a promise to Francis at the time not to share how much that cheque was for, but it was all that she had to give.

“Put a roof on that shelter. I dont want those children to have to study in the rain.”  she told me.

The rest, as they say, is history. We did put that roof on the carepoint in Moyeni and today 200 preschool aged children come there each day for food, teaching and community.

Over the years that followed I kept going to Swaziland. I graduated, became a doctor and eventually would direct an organisation which daily worked at empowering those who are  living in the most desperate of circumstances to help themselves.

Hannah Szenes once wrote “Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame”.

For me Frances Bennett was a match.  By her generosity of spirit and tender grace she kindled in me the belief that all things are possible. She awakened in me the notion that I truly could make a difference in this world.  Her life was one of prayerful humility and vibrant joy at the gift of each new day.

Gogo Frances (as they call her in Swaziland – Gogo meaning grandmother) was my hero and my friend.

She changed the world with her love.




Yes there are many of us. Six billion or more. But at some deep, subconscious level we are connected. When one human being reaches out to another, we are all extended, all enriched, all fulfilled. Enjoy the video! (shared by Lori)  ;)

Have a beautiful day, M


A Story of Grace

An excerpt from a talk I gave last year about a moving encounter with a gracious Swazi Gogo (grandmother)


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