Thursday, August 2, 2012

A New Beginning

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. 


  1. Diana, you wrote: "Then the circle would be complete from beginning to end to a new beginning." Perhaps it's not a circle at all, but rather a spiral, ever-turning in upon itself and rising higher with each new turn. The spiral has its own twists and turns upon itself, sometimes almost as though it is regressing, until it turns its own bend and expands to a new level. It sounds like the Conversation has been like the spiral, expanding outward and inward at the same time, catching more and more hungry souls along its infinite trajectory.

  2. Hi Diana, This line you wrote, "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" reminds me of a novel called "Little, Big" by John Crowley (1981). It is all about that idea, but on a world scale. Perhaps your foray away from Innermost House will be part of something that makes the world relax into great spaciousness again--a condition that I think was more a common inheritance of humanity till recently. It is like the spaciousness that is created when sitting still in meditation. The world certainly feels like it is lacking the spaciousness that it used to have and could hopefully have again (humanity's experience of the world that is--the spaciousness is always already there for anyone who is willing to stop, let go, and experience it). An innermost world would be a nice thing to leave to the next generation.

  3. You know, Diana, I totally get what you saw when you looked into the window of the unfurnished IH the first time you left it. Emptied of your spirit and love for the Conversation, the vacant house has lost the light that you took with you when you left. The main room now looks almost ordinary (although not quite!!) without its ambience and interplay of texture and light that you and Michael brought to its inner space with your books, the absolute awareness of object placement, and your own inner quietude. I've been thinking about how you created walls to enclose the space containing the Conversation that you and Michael created around your original outdoor fire pit, and have compared it to my own life and how I took the opposite route. I've never lived in a home that my husband and I designed and built from scratch based on thoughtful consideration of what we wanted our walls to enclose, but rather had to work with pre-built homes we purchased to which I added my appreciation for the space it already contained. I've always been more interested in the space surrounding things rather than the items themselves and when I am in a space that feels cluttered and dusty I get claustrophobic no matter how large the room is. To me, space is filled with empty Silence, and when focused on, this space has an energetic, vibratory feel to it that is like the sensory feeling of the hum of a refrigerator. When I focus on space in my own home, I come to a quiet rest inside myself and feel calm and centered. It's sort of like bypassing the 'contemplation' stage of Silence and Space and going right to the intuitive kinesthetic end result of it. I envy your relationship with Michael that has allowed you to travel in tandem to follow the siren song of the Conversation as it moves of its own will. I can't imagine my own husband doing the same with me, and with my children when they were young, it would have been hard to pick up and move whenever I got an inner prompting. I guess I've had to learn to 'bloom where I was planted' and trust that my little plot of land would yield an abundant harvest of inner wisdom as long as I kept it watered with my love and attention...

  4. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but thou canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8 KJV)

    "The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive.
    The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.
    Because it is unfathomable,
    All we can do is describe their appearance.
    Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.
    Alert, like men aware of danger.
    Courteous, like visiting guests.
    Yielding, like ice about to melt.
    Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.
    Hollow, like caves.
    Opaque, like muddy pools.
    Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
    Who can remain still until the moment of action?
    Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfilment.
    Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change."

    (Chapter 15 of the Tao. This translation, which I love, found online here )

  5. Ember, what a beautiful translation of the Tao. Thanks for posting the link; I added the page to my favorites bar on my computer. I like the notion of not being swayed by the desire for change. Anchored in the present moment alone and not letting the mind drift into the past or the future, creates contentment and surrender to whatever that moment may hold.

  6. Diana,

    A few years ago, I noticed a pattern in my life. Invariably (although sometimes the amount of time in between varies), I oscillate between periods of exposure and periods of sanctuary--geographically, psychologically, spiritually, financially, romantically--it is my nature.

    For me, the chiarascuro--the opposites--the darkness and the light--are required together to maintain a delicate balance--and most importantly, make both exposure and sanctuary much sweeter.

    Maybe you can discard expectations and embrace and enjoy this period of exposure. Suck the marrow out of it.

    Hell after all, you spent a long time in a tiny house with no electricity. ;-) As they say, "A little change may do you some good!"

    1. Dewey, Your oscillation of periods between exposure and sanctuary mirror the 'spanda' (the pulsation of expansion and contraction) of the universe and in nature.

  7. Edit for typo:

    "Chiaroscuro" spelling mistakes bug me.

  8. Dear Diana, I totally recognized the experience of minute outside but huge inside! I lived in a caravan (24’ long by 7’ wide) for many years, with my husband and two children. It always looked impossible as a habitation for 4 people as we drove up after an absence, but it expanded miraculously when we boarded. We usually had a tent on the front, which gave extra sheltered space in good weather. Our fridge and stove ran on bottled gas, our lights and water pump on 12V electricity from a car battery. It was very comfortable, always much to the shock of visitors! The advantage of the caravan was that we took our home wherever we went. This is what the Tumbleweed (and other) Tiny Houses are all about – tiny, beautiful, customized homes on wheels, most certainly a lot posher and prettier than a caravan.

    Shakespeare says through Hamlet “Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams.”

    I’m not sure where that thought is going – but it’s important…

  9. Diana, you wrote: "But the Conversation has always had its own needs, and I have tried to let it lead me." If I might ask, what did the inner impulse feel like that first made you realize that it was time to leave IH? Where did you feel it in your body? For instance, did you feel a pull in your heart region or your solar plexus, drawing you away from IH? Did a thought come to you out of the blue that it was time to leave, but without any logical reason? Was it a prickle of unease that started to arise that made you feel too uncomfortable to stay? You have said that you don't remember the past much and rarely think of the future, so I just wondered WHERE the inner impulse arose from (I'm assuming the stillpoint within). I'm very interested in the process itself of how you have learned to listen to the voice of the Conversation and how the Conversation differs in tone and feel from your own personality's voice.

  10. Diana,

    By the way, I am Dewey who you recently replied to via email.

    I am just catching up on the previous posts.

    In the post about "the Space Between", the word that I have always used for that is "equanimity." And I wrote a short convocation recently on the subject:

    Pronunciation: \ˌē-kwə-ˈni-mə-tē, ˌe-kwə-\
    Etymology: Latin aequanimitas, from aequo animo with even mind

    1 : evenness of mind especially under stress
    2 : right disposition :balance

    Equanimity is the unattached awareness of one’s experience as a result of perceiving the impermanence of momentary reality. It is a peace of mind and abiding calmess that cannot be shaken by any grade of either fortunate or unfortunate circumstance.

    O Master of Light, Giver of all Gifts and Broker of all Burdens, please forgive us our transgressions of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and lend us your ear for our humble convocation.

    We are thankful for all we are given–our families, food, health, shelter, safety, and friends. And our burdens.

    Please forgive us if we forget the poor and suffering in the world, if we lose our gratitude.

    Please forgive us in our weakness. We are creatures of selfishness. We get lost in ourselves and our desires and we lose our conscious contact with the universe. We let small everyday burdens overwhelm. We forget that the universe places these burdens in our lives as opportunities for growth–as pathways to inner strength.

    As I pass through this day ahead, I pray that I may have equanimity in my affairs, that I may approach the good and the bad with an even keel. And that with the help of grace, I may remain balanced in the moment with serenity.

    1. Dewey, thank you for this lovely post. Equanimity is what I strive for also.

    2. Lovely prayer. Thanks, Dewey!

  11. Diana, I love this picture of IH, especially the 'shadow' of you that can be seen through the kitchen window, perhaps preparing your evening meal. The glowing light of the fire illuminating the entire space is so warm and comforting, too. Achingly beautiful...

  12. Diana, you said: "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."

    I have experienced that as well - both as a child and now again with my husband. I come from a family of seven -- five children born within 6 years. In the earlier years we lived in a small house, 20' x 22" with an addition of a bathroom off the side of the house. It was an amazingly fun house with lots of activity and only the bare essentials in the way of furniture; there wasn't room for it! We had some friends who loved to come over and play because it was like a big play house. And we had other friends were too uncomfortable with the simple space. Thanks to your description, I now better understand the negative feelings that I still have attached to those memories and they are disappearing. Today as an adult, when my husband doesn't get my 'tiny house' fascination (passion, actually) my feelings are not hurt. He has a very grand idea of what a house should look like and a long list of things that will fill it. I don't mean to judge him on his preference, but there it is..

    Like you have found with some guests, Diana, I find it sad that my husband does not see the 'within-ness' that can come from ourselves, and no-thing else.

    This blog maintains a seriousness that is appropriate for the heart and soul sharing we do but I think a little laughter is healthy as well. So I will share the link to the house that my husband compared the IH with, when I showed the IH to him. Obviously he and I don't agree on this one!

    1. I couldn't get the link to work, Leah. I would love a good laugh!

    2. Hi Julie, I believe you will need to copy the link and paste in your browser search engine. I just tried that and it took me right there so hopefully it will work for you.

    3. Julie - you just highlight the link and right-click to open in your browser.

      Leah - I had five children in six years too! How interesting - just the same :0)

    4. Ember - five children in six years! That explains the patience and wisdom you show us...and the bright halo I see around your head in the picture :-) Your children are blessed to have you, as I am to have my Mom!

  13. "Then the circle would be complete from beginning to end to a new beginning." reminds me of...

    We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.

    T.S. Eliot -- "Little Gidding" (the last of his Four Quartets)

    Diana, your first posts have elicited responses from me beyond words. Throughout the Innermost FB dialogue, that became a conversation, both your presence and your absence were palpable. Please take your time with this new circle of friends. We understand the need, at times, for space and silence. Blessings to you.


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