Monday, August 13, 2012

A House For Homeleaving

It rained last night.  I love the rain.  It weds things together a little into a dream landscape.  The separateness and distinction that stands out in the sunshine is a little diminished in the rain.  “She walks in beauty like the night.”  The rain is like the night.

You have been very patient with me finding my way here day by day.  Some of you have expressed a wish to know more of why I chose to leave Innermost House.  Others have inquired privately.  It is natural to wish to know.  I have many times wondered myself. 

My life is a mystery to me.  I sometimes feel like a player on a stage who is given a life to live and lines to speak in a world I cannot understand.  I will try to speak as plainly as I can.

Seven years ago we built a house at the invitation of a man who had turned to my husband as a mentor for many years.  We had only just come to the fateful end of a long search that completely changed our life.

Our friend was an unmarried man then on the threshold of retirement from business.  He recognized that what he had always admired in my husband had ripened into something he most aspired to.  He offered us all he had—a retreat property, a house, himself and his friends to teach.

We were offered other places.  After a year more of seclusion we decided to accept an invitation to return to live permanently in France.  When  I telephoned our old friend, he pleaded with us to come to him instead. 

I chose to accept his request.  We moved onto the land and built Innermost House.  We expected to live there for the rest of our life.  It was to be a retreat for those who would come to renew their souls.

But by then our friend had married a younger woman.  Soon he resumed his career on a scale unlike any he had ever known to support the enlarging desires of his new family.  

Then the retreat property was sold.  We were urged to move and live with them, but everything had changed.

Others saw it before I did.  Powerful guests who had become devoted to the Conversation were concerned.  They feared for all the Conversation had come to mean to them.

People are right to pursue their own destinies.  But not all destinies are to be reconciled.  It became clear that we were moving in opposite directions.  There was no room there for the Conversation to breathe.  When at last I saw that I must choose, I chose not to live with his family.  He had chosen another life.

The family who purchased the Innermost House land welcomed us back to live in the house again as their guests.  But the property was a retreat no longer. 

Three years passed while our original partner sought a way to reunite us, but it finally became clear that would never be possible. 

I felt we could no longer accept the unreserved hospitality of our new friends.  If I could have taken Innermost House with me I would have.  But the house was part of the woods and could not be moved.  So I took the seed from which it was first grown, the soul of the Conversation, and left to seek another woods to begin again.

I can no longer distinguish between good fortune and bad.  I only know that every time that soul at the heart of my married life has needed to move and change, it has found a way.  Were I still at rest in my house I would not know you now.

I chose to go to those woods.  I chose to leave.  This morning the world lies open to a blue sky.  And I find I can love that too, however I may love the woods and the night and the rain.


  1. Thank you for this, Diana. While I think we were able to put bits and pieces together over the past weeks and think something like this had happened, it's good to read it all so clearly explained.

    Perhaps we can discuss the meaning and importance of ownership for an innermost house and life. Clearly, no one else can own our inner being, but if they own our house, things can get complicated.


  2. So if they do not live in the Innermost House anymore then the lessons have changed so we should all move on? Innermost House was.... This is now....

  3. We have seen pictures and discussed daily life and some of us can even imagine being there in the physical Innermost House. For Diana, Innermost House still exists as 'more than a memory". Nothing that much has really changed for us, except that we now have the added privilege of getting to know Diana herself. It seems as humans we have a need to know about a physical place that is still lived in, even though our appreciation of it is only in our mind's eye. Strange, isn't it?

  4. It is, after all, just a house. A lesson given is a lesson served. Like a meal it is digested and incorporated.. A house can be destroyed by any number of incidents, however, the soul remains, lessons are passed down and adapted and finally; Life goes on.

  5. You leave a house, but the lessons and memories go with you.
    People make the place......... I have no doubt that you will
    find another location, not to begin, but to continue.
    Perhaps the process of moving on will lead to the next chapter.
    I have been a Carpenter/Builder for 40 years, maybe we will talk.

  6. Life, all of ours, is a journey...change is or seems to be ever presence...a new journey...a new path...a new door opens...blessings to you..+will osb

  7. I am curious about the phrase: "But the property was a retreat no longer."

    Did ending the relationship (as you knew it) with the previous owners, presuppose the ending of Conversations with the other friends?

    "Others saw it before I did. Powerful guests who had become devoted to the Conversation were concerned. They feared for all the Conversation had come to mean to them."

    I don't understand the connection.. but perhaps I am missing some subtle nuance you are sharing. If so I apologize.

  8. Perhaps the term "Innermost House" now refers to each reader's own innermost life, the "homes" that we each build inside ourselves, and the desires there that led all of us here to this online community in the first place. The actual building itself may not be accessible anymore, but that means we are now following the journey to a new one. Both the real story and the metaphor can dovetail, no? I would really like to hear the details of the Lorences' journey to their new home; both literally and figuratively speaking. How many of us are in the same exact "inner house" that we were in a decade ago, or even a few years ago?

  9. I wonder if it is really the experiences you had in IH that are what you are mourning, and not the house itself.

    Most of us return to places we have lived before and we draw from our memories scenes from when we lived there. I have returned to homes where I can still hear the chatter as we sat and ate and talked at the table, or the sound of my siblings laughing while they challenged each other in street hockey. But when we really look around, all of a sudden there is just an empty room (or someone else's furniture!) and a quiet street. I am reminded that our memories don't live there. They live inside of us.

    I hope you are successful in finding a suitable new Place for you to add to your memories.

  10. The waters of the past are already down the river and the waters coming can't be known. I think Diana talked candidly about her present view of the currents.

    Regardless, I love the Byron poem she alluded to:

    Lord Byron

    CLXXIII. "She walks in beauty, like the night"

    SHE walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
    And all that's best of dark and bright
    Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
    Thus mellow'd to that tender light 5
    Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

    One shade the more, one ray the less,
    Had half impair'd the nameless grace
    Which waves in every raven tress
    Or softly lightens o'er her face, 10
    Where thoughts serenely sweet express
    How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

    And on that cheek and o'er that brow
    So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
    The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 15
    But tell of days in goodness spent,—
    A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent.

    I am still going for a little joy around here,

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. In this context, I found this blog post from the Quaker Brent Bill helpful:

    In the Quaker process of discernment, there is a waiting for "way to open".

    The way (the Tao) cannot be forced, but it can be discerned. When it is indiscernible, there is nothing to do but stand still and wait while the mud settles.

    God bless the waiting, the searching, the healing, the seeking, the watching. xxx

  13. Waiting patiently for answers to unfold has never been easy for me, as you have seen with my questions on this site. Thank you, Ember (and the Tao!).

  14. I deleted this comment from above because I found a typo that I couldn't correct after it had been posted. Here is the corrected version:
    Diana, Here is one of the seeds that you have planted in me through your modeling of true living that you expressed at IH. You have taught me that even as I allow my life to unfold as the mystery that it is, I also have the choice to shape it subtly through the life choices I make in each moment--either to live with the wholeness of the vision I hold for my life always in the forefront of my awareness, or to live unconsciously and merely hope for the best. One of the unspoken questions that throbs eternally in my heart if I consciously remember to recommit to the purpose of the life I have been given is: "How will I pay attention to and fully engage lovingly with the new day that is given to me freely as a divine gift?" Diana, your leaving of IH in the woods has taught me as much about releasing my life to God's will for me as much as your staying at IH did. Both ways of being were necessary to fully illustrate the lesson.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.