Every new day is a wonder to me. When you have dreamed you were lost, and you wake to find your way home, is there anything like that waking? Thank you for sharing your dream, Ruth.
Welcome Stacy. I am so glad you found the farmhouse of your dreams. Melanie, how do you do? I love the idea of sharing the worlds we build together.
Thank you Becky, now I remember. Lydia and David, I look forward to sharing the Conversation with you both.
And Laurel, I am like you. I have been overwhelmed by it all always. Together we shall seek our original simplicity.
I want to try to address your individual questions one by one, and if I should miss yours won't you please remind me? If it can be lost I will lose it, so don't be shy. It's only me, not you!
Pam you kindly say, "I'm feeling a certain bereft mourning for that beautiful home, left behind. Who will live there now and take care of its walls, its hearth, its lifeblood?"
Innermost House was built on a retreat property we did not own. Michael and I have never owned land or a house. It may be necessary some day, but I don't like to own things.
We left the house with the present land owners. It is theirs now. We built the house in partnership with a previous owner. After the property was sold we were offered it back by the family who now owns it. They would accept nothing from us but our friendship, and they kept faith with us to the end. Some day I will tell you about the people with whom we left it. I love them. It is in good hands.
Then Pam you go on to ask an impossible question for all of us, for yourself and Katrina, for Julie and Leah and me. "How do we grieve for what we have lost or will lose, yet still keep our hands and our hearts open in non-grasping? ...What can loss and change teach us about where we cling to safety and security to avoid the groundlessness of our own being? What constitutes a firm foundation in our lives?"
I am completely unequal to questions of that kind. Yet those are the sort of questions people bring to my husband, if not always with your depth of learning!
I can only say what I have observed him to live. The answer seems not to lie in understanding alone, though it has something to do with understanding. It seems more to lie in unreserved experience. Through him I have come to believe that truly blessed are they that mourn. Sometime when we all feel up to it, we can talk about it more.
I think, David, you spoke for many of us when you said, "So strange to see innermost house without books on the shelf and otherwise empty." I feel the same way.
When we left Innermost House that first time years ago, of course we completely unfurnished it. The day we came back we walked up the hill and along the path until we stood before the house. Then I walked up the steps and did something I had never done before. I looked in the window at the unfurnished interior. It was so small!
For a moment even I was appalled that we had lived in such an impossibly tiny space! Then we stepped inside the door, and it all came back to me.
This is difficult to explain. Innermost House has an inside and an outside. Its interior and exterior surfaces, its dimensions within and without, its form and materials and construction--these all belong to the "outside." Without the outside you have no house, and my husband took enormous care with all that. The outside is what I saw as I walked up the path. It is what I saw when I looked in the window.
What came back to me when I stepped indoors were its "insides." Its life. The recollection of a thousand fires. The memory of a thousand Conversations.
Through our years in the house I came to distinguish between visitors in a very simple way. There were those like you who could see the within-ness of things, who walked into the tiny furnished house and relaxed into a great spaciousness. Kirsten Dirksen and Kent Griswold were like that, and I immediately loved them for it.
I would sometimes watch with curiosity as a guest struggled within themselves to make the transition from outside to inside, from tiny house to leviathan. You could see the wonder and satisfaction in their eyes when they found themselves at last in the belly of the whale.
Then there were those who could never penetrate its surfaces, who only saw it as narrow and small and even sad. I was sorry for them. I think they had not eyes to see the innermostness.
Alice wonders, "Diana, what do you feel the need of the Conversation is at this moment?"
Thank you for asking it that way, Alice. All I can do is feel. I have no prudence and am no guide to anything.
I have never really wanted to go where I was going. I wanted to stay. But the Conversation has always had its own needs, and I have tried to let it lead me.
I think of that line from Emerson, "They found no example and no companion, and their heart fainted."
We touched on this last night. A spirit, a house, a world, a heaven. I think that is in some way what is needed now.
Had there not first been the spirit of Conversation, there would not have been the house. If there had been no house there would not have been a world of visitors. If I had not left my house and world I never would have found this heaven.
I think somehow this heaven of Conversation we share will find a new world in a new community of friends and guests. And then I hope there will be a house again where we can receive those who need to experience it for themselves, and take away what they will and make of it what they can.
Then the circle would be complete from beginning to end to a new beginning. That is what I feel.