You are very welcome Sandy. I am so grateful to think our Conversation has made a difference to you.
Leah you ask about the way in which the next Innermost House is likely to change when we make a new beginning. You are right that we all change together—my husband, our room, and I. Maybe it is best to step back for just a moment and try to say why there is an Innermost House in the first place.
I have suffered since early childhood from a sense of divideness. It began as near to me as my own family, and edged its way outward to touch everyone and everything. I felt divided from everyone I knew. Or I suppose I should say, I suffered from a divideness that everyone else seemed to feel was normal.
My sense of that dividedness extended outward from people to everything touched by people—the towns and houses and objects that comprise the world—but it all began with human dividedness.
I fled from human divideness, but not from humanity. I know it sounds strange, but all our succession of small and sheltering houses were not exactly the result of any desire to flee from the human world, but much more a desperate effort to put that world back together again in a way that answered my sense of something that had gone missing. In the circle of my marriage and in the homes we made I was able to gradually regain more and more of that lost unity.
As we refined our rooms and houses and way of life, I felt a gathering sense of peace. At Innermost House for the first time I came to love receiving guests at our Conversations around the fire. We did so seldom enough that I never felt our solitude was interrupted by those visits.
It was just the opposite really. With every individual human being we received who surrendered themselves to the spirit of Conversation, I felt the wound at the heart of my separate existence a little more healed.
But the circle around Innermost House was narrowing in our last years there. I chose to leave the body of the house to save its spirit, the spirit of the Conversation.
That is why I say that I would choose to leave it all over again. My choice for the spirit did not make leaving the body less painful. I have mourned the loss of that Place of eternity every day since, but it was necessary. Our circumstances were closing around us, while I was growing toward a larger unity. I am still growing.
In the next incarnation of Innermost House, I expect the house itself to change very little. I have no desire to change it at all. I only expect it to change in such ways as reflect its local climate and materials and traditions.
What I do expect to change is its proximity to people. The Innermost House I left behind was out of the way and difficult to access, and hedged all around by secrecy. In our next home I want to be near people with whom I now daily feel a healing of the wounds of separation.
You ask what I have gained in these late months that can possibly compensate me for the loss of Innermost House. I want to say something I have not wished to say before I was sure of it myself. With every new day I feel a little more of what I thought I left behind taking root within me. It is no longer just a memory, but becoming something else, something more.
It is almost as if my experience of life at Innermost House is being reconstituted, where everyone and everything are somehow again one continuous experience. Walking along the streets here of our new home, I feel an unexpected, but familiar, contentment.
Situations that have confounded me all my life now assume the aspect of friendly influences. I meet and speak with strangers every day in the most wonderful and spontaneous intimacy. We meet in a kind of charmed circle, almost as if we sat together around the fire. I cannot tell if what I left behind lies more within me now or more widely all around me. Am I enclosing it, or is it enclosing me?
I feel as though I have been given a second chance. I am going very slowly, but I feel it happening. I have lost the home that made it possible for me to welcome other people as myself, and yet now I see myself even in the strangers I meet. I feel unaccountably less fragile than I have ever felt before. I am strangely happy.
Next time I want to try to answer Pam and Leah by speaking as plainly as I can of the spirit of Innermost House, the Conversation.