Friday, September 28, 2012


I read your comments over and over.  Katrina, Tammy, Sherry and Leah, Bri, Julie, Alice, Pam and Emberthank you each for remaining so awake to what I am trying to say.  I am calling up thoughts from such hidden places that sometimes at the surface they sound strange even to me.  

Katrina, yes!  It is exactly as if the veil of the world is held back within the house, and we plainly behold all day and night the ceremony of innocence. 

Tammy, I apologize for appearing to write from behind a veil.  Inside the house the veil is held back, but between the house and our conversation about it, a veil perhaps lies in the nature of things.  

I read all of your comments aloud.  I find that speaking your words is a truer revelation to me of what we are all sharing here together.  If the meaning of a post seems veiled, you might try slowly reading it aloud, and listen to your voice as if I were speaking to you.  Which I am!  I live in a world where words have a body—where every thought is given speech.  Our Conversation is a spoken communion.  When we read, we read aloud.  I am not skillful at putting my very inner experience of life into written words.  And if a sentence or paragraph doesn't make sense, just let it go.  What is left may become clearer.  I often do that when reading.

Life in Innermost House is almost incommunicably simple.  It is as simple as the dawn.  It is as simple as the seasons.  I am sorry that my words should complicate it.

So often it seems that one of youat times it has been all of you togethersee in what I am trying to say something true, which I had no deliberate idea of saying!  I only try to say what is in my soul as simply as I can, but as subtly as I perceive it.  I simply let my thoughts seek a resting place in words.  The path is almost never straight, but it moves in one direction.  Julie, what branch of navigation would you call that?  Or is it just steering downstream?

Leah, your idea of baking is a very companionable one.  Maybe we are here together to compare recipes.  But if so then I must confess that I never could follow a recipe in all my life.  There is no one to whom the mystery of baking is more of a mystery than me!  So I couldn't help smiling when you concluded your explanation by explaining how your feelings don't always translate well into words.  That's just how I feel.  And Katrina, now you apologize for the same thing.  But neither of you could have spoken more generously or clearly.  

If I have lived most of my life seldom being under-stood, I suppose it is because I lay so low as to make it hard to find a place to stand underneath me.  Alice, Julie and Pamthank you for showing me you understand.  Thank you for teaching me what I mean.  And Sherry, thank you for staying.  For me too, this is a good place to be.

Julie and Pam, you have added so much of such depth that I can hardly find a satisfactory reply.  Not at least tonight. But I am grateful for every word.  You offer us all your invaluable perspective.  You are like the morning songbirds who inhabit the woods, announcing with your vitality the promise of the Innermost Life.

You said something Ember that my husband has often observed to me, that "Innermost House is also the modern world."  I think that is true.  Innermost House is almost unimaginable as a response to any other world than exactly our own.  I never expect to occupy a more inward place than Innermost House.  It is as inward as the world today is outward.

And I am moving outward now.  I am gone from my house in the woods and reaching out to friendships across the expanse of the modern world, the same world from which I once retreated.  I believe in the rightness of where I am and what we are doing together, though I cannot entirely explain it.  I am more than consolable.  By your patient kindness, I am consoled.  And you are right.  I am not within the house now, but I am protecting its precious seed within me.

My life in the woods was very simple, but it is not simple to explain.  I cannot do it alone, as you all see.  We together are describing what life in Innermost House is and means.  You are helping me to see as much as I am helping you.

And Bri, I too love that ladybug right in front of me.  I remember her from my earliest days, "when all things were tall, and our friends were small, and the world was new."


  1. Diana, I love your advice to read things aloud. And I love that the way you state it reminds me of this poem:


    1. I like this poem
      "so you hear the word loaded and a sensory constellation is lit".
      I am reading this sentence over and over again, aloud or in silence. In fact, all of this: the conversation, the comments, reads like a poem. I do not always understand, but I feel the words knocking at the door of my consciousness, they want to come in, waiting for me to open.

    2. JR! Thank you. I've never read anything like this before. I need to read it over and over (aloud) Thank you again.

    3. I really liked this poem. However, what I have found is that while the meaning of a poem and of each of its words contains a subtext of nuance and understanding unique to each of our own life experiences, often the writing of another has its own special voice that immediately is connected in one's mind with the words being read. When I read my Guru's words, for instance, I 'hear' the words in my head with HER voice and intonation. And likewise, when I read Diana's words, her whole personality and manner of speaking that I heard in the video permeates her text--her words are uttered in my head with HER voice and not my own.

  2. "Life in Innermost House is almost incommunicably simple. It is as simple as the dawn."

    "I simply let my thoughts seek a resting place in words."

    Amen to such simplicity. x

  3. Diana, you tickle me. I think you have just told us today what "branch" of navigation you have a genius for. It's the ancient navigation of the wild and uncharted river. "It is as simple as the dawn. It is as simple as the seasons." It's as simple as responding to the pull of Bri's "sensory constellation" that isn't always visible in the night sky.

    You are, perhaps, our Sacagawea, the lady Indian guide who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their Corps of Discovery Expedition from North Dakota all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Though those gentlemen were surely very smart, it's clear that they had no idea of where they were going or what they would discover--they were only moving forward upon the barest PRESUMPTION that there was access to an ocean somewhere in that direction. Those men were obliged to set their own "smarts" aside and rely completely upon the ancient skills of Sacagawea...and she got them there by knowing how to feel the river. They found "it". The expedition was a success.

  4. Diana, you carry the fire. In Cormac McCarthy's grim novel, "The Road," a father and son walk through the bleak smoldering remains of America after the apocalypse. In a gray world full of unspeakable horror and misery, they appear to be the last two good people on the continent, and somehow cling to the dim hope that there is a time and place where the smoldering ember of goodness within them can kindle a new, good and peaceful world. They seem to understand a sacred duty to carry the fire and they struggle for survival as much to protect the fire as to protect themselves. Diana, you carry the fire for us.

  5. Al! We are two minds with but a single thought this morning, sir. Look at the timing of our posts. We were pecking away on our computers simultaneously weren't we? Are all of us here being groomed to also carry the embers of the ancient goodness into the future? (I hope OUR Ember is basking in the glow of what you've said today.)

    Indeed. Diana carries the fire.

  6. "Diana, you carry the fire for us." So simple yet so powerful.

    In days of disquiet, consumerism and confusion, where people are scattered, it is nice to know there are torchbearers out there to look to - not depend upon though. But to help illuminate some of the basic principles and needs that have been lost or forgotten in the shadows.
    To cast the glow and say, "look, there is contentment in simplicity. In turn, a knowing".

    I love to read aloud Diana. Though, mostly when I'm alone. The glances cast my way when I do cause me to withdraw.
    So, I speak when alone.
    It makes sense to do so though. For it feels as though I am talking to my other self. The child within who loves to hear what I read.
    I think all children, within and without, love to hear of tales, memories, thoughts. It helps our own thought processes I think.
    Sometimes, the voice in my head spins around and around until I speak.
    Then, it can rest.

  7. i like coming late here. after a post by diana and of all of you.
    i get to read . . . silently. and now aloud! . . . the way all the pieces fit for everyone.
    and diana.
    never ever feel you need to apologize to the likes of me!
    you who are as fragile and strong as the monarch who flies over 3,000 miles in all conditions . . . i see you more like that. leading a way back.
    there are others. always. but you are my butterfly!
    just as the mystery of how the tiny monarch can do it . . .
    there is the mystery of the innermost life in all you teach us here.
    and to all those you see and know, that we don't know.
    i loved the poem, jr.
    and bri . . . i had to laugh at your comment on the last post about the
    lady bug! that is me too!
    and a special gift to me to see my friend vicki here.
    she would speak in an australian voice. music to my ears!
    and what i loved the most of course . . . diana's "as simple as the dawn."
    the perfect words, spoken or not, for the innermost house.

  8. If I might add one more thing.
    In these days of the hastily written text, I believe that reading aloud beautifully spoken words like Diana's, creates a resonance. A vibration within that's good for the soul.

  9. I think Diana needs to start an audio blog!

  10. Hello, Diana. Was moisture ever a problem for the plaster walls in your bathing area? I'll only be able to afford one "shot" at this, and appreciate your advice. As my mother was fond of saying, "If you don't have time to do it right, you definitely don't have time to do it over." Haha!

    1. julie . . .
      i happened onto a wonderful blog kept by a young mother of one in finland. it's all about her discovery and love for living a simple spiritual life, filled with love and only what's necessary.
      the reason i mention her here.
      she and her husband and her little daughter grew mysteriously ill. they could find no answers. but they got worse and worse.
      the daughter began to even have nose bleeds.
      it turned out that their apartment in helsinki was filled with black toxic mold. (apparently not even visible)!
      it is a problem there. due to partly the climate, but also to the "ecologically green" habit of building with plastic bag
      insulation! i'd never heard of that.
      she's a wonderful person and her blog is too. if you should want to check it out. they are now trying to find a small cabin
      in the country. (or anything really . . . that they can live in
      sparely and with good health.)
      so in answer to your question to diana (barging in here of course! lol) i would say, since you only have "one shot" at it ... yes! it might be very important not to have moisture anywhere in the walls.
      vappu (that's her name. it means the first of may in finnish
      her blog is
      i enjoyed starting at the first of her archives and seeing how
      she grew and grew into her own simplicity. she is an artist also.

    2. Thanks for that, Tammy. I'll go there right away. It sounds so interesting.

    3. Tammy, thank you for sharing this site. I spent much of the afternoon reading her blog and others she referenced. We are a 'small', but growing community! ;)

      I really like that she is the first to admit that sometimes we (people who simplify) make mistakes and need to change our minds, for example to buy back something we gave away or to move back to someplace we moved from. I am learning that simplifying or finding the right home and lifestyle is usually something we grow into; it is a process that may require many steps.

      This IH group has been wonderful for helping me make take some of those steps... and understand better what I want so that I am making decisions from a more grounded place.

    4. I did the same thing with my afternoon, ladies. Even baby steps turn out to be bigger than we think!

  11. Thank you, Diana, for this: "Innermost House is almost unimaginable as a response to any other world than exactly our own." This is the thing that I have tried in so many ways to put into words and failed. It's why, for me, the time is at hand. I'm experiencing a palpable sense of "now-or-never" with regard to time.

    1. Julie, I have experienced this as a Holy Spirit thing. Like the old song that says "You gotta move when the Spirit says move, and obey the Spirit of the Lord." This has happened to me three times now with regard to house moves, and I have been startled by the obvious practical involvement of the Holy in the specific details of my life. Listening for and responding to the still small voice helps things along mightily.
      It reminds me of Lao Tsu in the Tao saying "In action, watch the timing".
      It's kairos as distinct from chronos. Just in case that's all Greek to you (!), Chronos (the Greek god who ate his children) is the weary plod of one darn thing after another kind of time - time as a string of beads, a series of events. Kairos on the other hand is a word that means both 'action' and 'time', so is like an actor's cue, what you might call the 'Now!' moment. Watching for the kairos is an important Innermost habit, I think. x

    2. One of my favorite sayings (and I seem to use it alot!) is: 'Life is all about timing'. I think that when we attune ourselves to pay attention to unexpected synchronicities in timing, we can see how our lives are not as random as we thought and that there is a divine hand at play in the unfolding of our life lessons.

    3. You are a fine Pastor, Ember. A more than adequate minister of the Words of Truth and a gifted teacher.

      And Pam, I agree that life is about timing and not getting too far out in front of our own times--being content to let our times come to us. And let's remember the sweet COMEDY too...It's all about the timing!

  12. Diana, I hope you are still going to tell us about life in the monastery, where you are now.

    1. Diana, I too would be interested in hearing about your life in the monastery. Some of my fondest memories of my middle years are those spent in an ashram for extended periods. There's nothing like it! Is the monastery you'r currently staying at cloistered? (usually if it's a male monastery and it's cloistered, women aren't allowed into the cloistered part.)

    2. Can I add my name to the list of people keen to hear about life in the monastery :0)

  13. I have a question about the fireplace in IH. I noticed that the hearth is only about twelve inches deep. How far back does the fireplace go to accomodate the actual fire so that you don't have to worry about sparks flying out of the fireplace and starting a fire in the main room? I would have thought that the hearth needed to be deeper according to building codes. I don't know if I'd be comfortable not having some sort of fireplace screen in front of a lit fire. (But then, I also have a feeling of discomfort using lit candles; must be a past life thing since I've never been in a fire in this lifetime!) Also, I noticed a silver urn on the small table next to the fireplace. Is that filled with water in case you have to douse an errant spark or flame?
    And, I asked this on the Facebook page, but just in case it's not forwarded to you, did you use beeswax candles so they'd last longer? How many candles did you go through on average per week?

  14. A question I have is about clothing.
    Here in England the weather is changeable - we have hot and dry, a lot of wet, a lot of very cold (both wet and dry cold); spring summer and winter are all distinct from each other and no one of them is predictable or reliable for length, warmth, wetness/dryness.
    Not all, but many, people choosing voluntary simplicity walk a lot and use public transport a lot. This means out-door wear has to be more responsive to weather conditions than if one travels everywhere by car. It also means often setting out cold and arriving hot.
    Because I am a writer, I spend a lot of time every day sitting still, so in cold weather I get very cold. Because I live a very reclusive life, my primary concern in clothing is comfort - but every now and then I am shocked by what a mess I look and try to improve my appearance. I prefer to cut my own hair, but once or twice a year go to a hairdresser to be tidied up.
    I find it a challenge to keep my wardrobe as minimalist as I would like, while still having appropriate clothing for different weather and life situations.
    I dry my laundry on a line and neither own nor ever use a tumble-drier, so in wet weather a quick turn-round of laundry is not always possible.
    It is also important to me to dress modestly.
    And though my choices are not wildly variable, I do get bored of the same type of clothes without some variety.
    My own solutions to these considerations are foot-friendly shoes (Birkenstock sandals, VivoBarefoot lace-ups, and sturdy winter boots),micro-fleece, cotton jersey, woven cotton and linen, long silk underwear, layers, mostly solid colour, quiet colours (blues, greens, browns, purples, greys) perked up with touches of red. I define my limit restrictions by my storage space. I regulate body temperature with hats (it was a revelation to me to discover how effective this is) and fingerless mittens.
    I also have a small flowerpot with earrings hanging from its rim. This makes a pretty ornament, and should the rim get too full I would know it had acquired too much jewellery and give some away.
    I don't bother with coats, umbrellas or purpose made rainwear (I do have one light coat but it's more like a long boiled wool cardigan really). If it rains I either wait until it stops before going out, or get wet and change when I come home. I dislike the swishy sound of rainwear when I'm walking. I like all my clothes and shoes to make no noise at all. And I must be able to sit on the floor and sit in slouchy positions because I am a very bendy person with feeble-minded connective tissue. So I avoid structured tailoring in woven cloth, preferring either very loose, flowing woven garments or knit fabrics.
    I prefer to keep about me ready to hand at all times such things as spectacles and handkerchiefs, so I sew large patch pockets to my skirts (which are mostly home-made in either homespun or re-cycled fabrics). I also take with me a large cloth buddha-bag whenever I go out - handy for picking up fir-cones or fallen twigs, or stashing groceries or discarded layers if I get hot.
    This is just a conversation starter. Knowing Michael is a master tailor and Michael and Diana choose natural fabrics and have travelled light, I am wondering about the specifics and practicalities of Michael's and Diana's clothing choices, but also about the clothing choices of others participating in this conversation.
    Thank you and I hope the length of this post has not bored you.

    1. Ember, I'm not as consciously limiting in my choice of clothing as you are, although I don't have much interest in it at all. I HATE to shop for clothing, so when I find a shirt or pair of pants I like I just buy it in several colors and am done with the process. I shop in only three clothing stores because I have so little tolerance for the tedium of shopping--I figure if I can't find something to wear in one of three places then I have issues!! LOL! I also dislike shopping for shoes, so I have only the bare minimum I need--sneakers, sandals and two pairs of closed-toe flats with soft soles in summer and winter neutral colors that don't make noise when I walk, and one pair of a neutral color high heel shoe for the summer and a black pair for the winter (I'm like you there--I hate the clattering of heels or soles on the ground and want to walk softly so I don't disturb the silence). I enjoy looking at people who make their clothes into an art form (!), but it seems like a waste of money that I would choose to spend on books instead (and there's where my minimalist proclivities fly out the window!). I am drawn to simplicity and it's reflected in my home and in my appearance, but I don't find anything inherently wrong with appreciating the abundance of the phenomenal world as long as a person can remain detached from the addictive need to own stuff because they hope that this object, NO, maybe this thing, Oh wait, no it's THIS new toy!, can bring them happiness or inner peace.

    2. I also would love to hear more about clothing choices. I recently moved back to more 'northern' climate and am making adjustments. It does seem to require a little more clothing options.

      Ember, you mentioned 'homespun' fabrics. Do you create these or are you saying you find retailers who use natural fibers in their clothing?

      I am smiling right now, remembering my grandmother who was famous for buying fabric and making an outfit for each of her kids from the same bolt... and then using the scraps for things like couch arm rest covers. We have a fun family photo of the family sitting on the couch and the younger boys' plaid pants matching the armrests. :)

      Pam, I applaud you for getting your shoe selection down to 6 (?) pairs! I have about 9 -- actually 11 if you count ice-skates and snow shoes. I am working on it, however.

      It is funny that you should mention clothing today, Ember, I had planned to go through my clothing today to see what I no longer need. I am a walker and yoga/stretching enthusiast so I seem to have a whole collection of clothes for that. Otherwise my wardrobe is predominately jeans (looser fitting as the years go by) and t-shirts and sweaters. For so many years I felt jeans allowed me to move and clean and bend to pick up after kids and handle home renovations... but my job and home situations have changed and my children are teens now. I am not needing to move or do the same activities I used to. I have been feeling like I would like to reduce my existing wardrobe and now include more long skirts and maxi-dresses and enjoy that relaxed feeling of loose dresses in fun colours. But like Pam, I really loath spending time in stores looking and trying on things so changes don't happen fast. I also am dismayed by the lack of quality garments available around me and am a hesitant online shopper -- I usually have to try on dozens of items in a store to find something that fits, so I am not optimistic about successfully choosing a cut and size to fit from an online selection.

      Perhaps we can post on the IH facebook page any favorite stores or online sites. It might save me, and others, some shopping anxiety. And if there are any posters here who make clothes on order, I can have my measurements ready in minutes! ;-)

    3. Leah, If I wouldn't stand out like a sore thumb in my office setting, I'd be perfectly content wearing a kind of 'habit'/uniform that I'd wear everyday, like a dark navy or black loose jumper shift with a V neckline and a seasonally long or short sleeved white crew neck knit top underneath. I like to sew (my maternal grandfather, a tailor, owned his own tailor shop and so I come by my sewing gene naturally), but I haven't made myself any clothes since I started working full-time twenty years ago. Prior to that I often made myself dresses, skirts, wool suits, pants and summer tops but at this point in my life, it would be just one more thing to have to add to my 'to do' list before I could plop myself down with a book in the evening and I confess, I'm getting lazy. I do agree with you that it's hard to find quality-made garments that don't cost way more than they're worth, and I'm loathe to spend a lot on clothes I wear to the office because it feels frivolous, wasteful and unnecessary at this stage in my career. I'm always neat and tidy, but I tend toward basic classic clothes that are pretty ordinary so they won't go out of fashion too quickly.

    4. Leah - 'Homespun' - not spun by me but a type of woven fabric. Shrinks in the wash first time or two - MUST be washed before sewing.

    5. Ember, ever since I read your blog post about clothing, I have been just dying to get to sew again. I like that you make your things. I used to to really enjoy this and I like to sew for the house and re-cover furniture also. I'm looking for a treadle machine that I can swap my electric one for.

  15. When it comes to clothing I am critical. I like elegant clothing of good quality and timeless fit, but I am not into fashion. It is difficult to find in the shops the things I really like; sometimes I feel forced to wear these fashion things, so if I can't find the right thing I make it myself. Always modest colors but I have a lot of shawls to make combinations, so that just one dress will have different looks. For the rest ... in Holland there is a lot of rain and I like to be outside, the clothing must be of good quality and suitable, so I can wear it for years. Recently I have reduced my wardrobe, all the bad bargains are gone and the good ones have more closet space ;-)

  16. Hello Diana, I'm delighted by your sharing your story here. I learned of IH a while back through Tiny House Blog, and it stuck with me like many others.

    I'm commenting in response to what I've read here of your alarm and not accepting the things that go against your grain. So often those of us who feel the same way feel we must conform to those things. My own childhood invalidated my senses and inclinations so that I learned to ignore my internal compass and ignore my self in favor of survival in a loud and vicious world. I've woken up to this fact, after over 20 years of dredging through life as I was told I must, trying to conform to it and play the role. I am having a world of trouble simply recollecting the truth of myself.

    The IH way of things resonated with me deeply, with the things that always made true sense to me, but I became convinced were foolishness that I had to repress. Learning of simpler living vindicated and examples given as real and sustainable things brings out such a soaring of hope and a crushing despair for having wasted my life so far listening to the voices who told me what I had to do and be.

    I've spent so much of my life wondering what is wrong with me, and still tell myself that I am broken for my nature. IH gives me some hope that there is somewhere for me and maybe that I have some sense after all.

    1. Just waving, friend. Intrigued by the name "Nothing". Reminds me of the Tao (Ch 11):

      "Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
      It is the center hole that makes it useful.
      Shape clay into a vessel;
      It is the space within that makes it useful.
      Cut doors and windows for a room;
      It is the holes which make it useful.
      Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
      Usefulness from what is not there."

      Nothing is a very good place to start, and makes room for peace. x

    2. I welcome Nothing and Nothingness at all times with open arms...DO COME IN. You've spoken well for all of us. Your words are a mirror. How delightful to look into the mirror today and see Nothing waving back at me at last.


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