Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Prayer to Me Now

Innermost House has become a prayer to me now.  That is what I found.  It is my prayer forever.  I shall always be Diana of Innermost House.

I held my breath in hope of rebuilding Innermost House as long as I could.  But now I understand that may not happen.  I have to breathe again.  I have to find another way to speak and be in the house.

I want to move inward with you toward the peace of the house in my heart, toward stillness, toward such words as you and I can find together.  I want to feel my way toward simpler writing.

Gary, what a very generous understanding you have.  Thank you for finding the words.  JoAnn, you too found the words.  I am so grateful to you.  And Leah, it means so much to me that you remain open to the evolution of this Conversation.  I know it isn't always easy!

Alice, your words are beautiful to me.  I am more wondering  than wavering, but please hold my trust with yours just the same.  Julie, you understand.  You always find the words.  I cannot imagine this Conversation without you.  Or without you Pam.  If I do not always understand all your words, I know that you do, and you encourage me.

M.W., I just realized you were the first to say that Innermost House is beautiful. There that night in the woods, all those years ago.  The very first.  Won't you please write to me on the Innermost House website?  I have no other way to reach you.

Has anyone who has lived so alone ever had better friends?  Thank you all from my heart.


  1. More to come, but for now..

  2. Diana, I am a new visitor here for maybe a month or so now. The posts from Innermost House and your blog have become my favorite appearances on my FB wall. I live in a beautiful sloping woods with 2 small flowing waterways. My name is Rebecca Sylvan. The Sylvan name I adopted for myself from the dictionary ... of the woods or forest...about 40 years ago. I am now 65. I am an artist. My children are in their mid twenties and blooming into their adult lives in other places than this house. I've always loved and needed solitude, so the "empty nest" is not a problem for me. In addition to the family home... lots of windows, natural wood, and space... there is a separate 800 sq foot studio connected by a breezeway. The first week in September, before I had ever heard of you or Innermost House, I decided to move out to the studio at least for the fall. I felt like my thinking and living patterns were getting too lethargic in the big house and that the move might shake that up. I was rather stunned about the difference it made to move the epicenter of my life about 30 feet! The most noticeable awakening change was the daily fire in my life. The studio has electricity, a beautiful bathroom, and a wood stove when cold sets in, and September and October were pretty gentle, but no intentional cooking set up. So I began cooking over a fire in the center of the medicine wheel in the woods just outside the studio. Though I am a nature person on a magical piece of land, linking the supporting of my bodily life directly to fire woke me up to its aliveness and an intensity of the depth of the present moment on a new level. I was most curious to hear about your process and experience of bringing your Innermost House life with you into the outer world. I have to work on this even when I walk the few steps back to the big house. I almost am a different self in the two places.
    I am in Central New Jersey about half way between Princeton and the Delaware River, so there also was a hurricane which traveling directly over me one night during this time, deepening the contrast, and laying 20 to 25 80 to 90 foot oaks down in my woods as daily reminders. It took my electricity too. I was electricity free for 12 days. The preceding two months were an uncanny preparation. My fire relationship deepened along with other things. I am wanting to be gentle with myself in integrating this. To be writing this to you right now I have either to sit outside in the cold and dark outside the kitchen door, or go inside the big house, as the studio does not have internet access. It is so, so quick and easy to get back into the sticky stuff here on the couch. Anyway, it is not equivalent to your experience, but is related in ways rarely shared with others. My particular spiritual community is the Quaker meeting. I love silence, in particular the Listening & Waiting in silence. I don't think I can overstate how central it is to the navigating of my life. Anyway, as you may imagine, there is more going on than these few words reveal, but I think them enough to introduce myself. How great to have your story show up for me at this particular juncture in my life.

    1. I hope you'll tell us more, Rebecca. This speaks so deeply to me. Welcome!

    2. Welcome, Rebecca! I too would love to hear more of your IH experience.

    3. In terms of IH what I have been happiest about is coming upon a gathering place where silence and basic living not only are not seen as doing nothing and being of small value, but quite the opposite. Even rarer is to find a space where it is spoken about, explored out loud, and lived into. Unprogrammed Quakers, the kind that most eastern Friends' meetings are, worship in silence broken only by occasional vocal messages by those strongly moved to do so. There is also a, operational discerning, decision making thing called Quaker process, for which silence is a fundamental aspect. It appears to me though that for most of my Quaker friends, this silence gets largely sequestered on Sunday. Here in the big house I have a prayer chair in the farthest uppermost corner, beyond which one cannot go, that I have called in physical terms the axis around which my life turns. Of course no physical thing is truly that, but I am highly entrained when I sit in that chair to be quiet, seeking, listening. The familiarity with that there, over time made it more present in the rest of my life. Anyway, my point is, that even among my Quaker friends I have not found resonance with core life importance of my experiences there. The story of Innermost House, which made an entire living space an almost laser like concentration of that, has my eyes wide.
      Though I have a natural love for solitude and inner quiet, I am also an artist, a lover of color, of metaphor, symbols, stories. My house is full of color, texture, and things. So, part of my exploration is
      is an integration of these tendencies in myself, at the moment regarding them as kind of polar qualities.
      I joined an intriguing 3 month online experiential course last spring, created by a woman Benedictine oblate, called Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist. It cast light on the questions but did not resolve them.
      Its a bit of an inner tussle. So there's that, the inner & outer world thing. And then I got "sent" from my chair to my studio (about 30 ft), not to be an artist or do anything in particular, you understand, but more just to be. An then came the further strip down of the hurricane's handiwork. The studio experience is still quite a baby, I think, so I am a bit unarranged. Since the storm and the onset of winter temperatures I have allowed myself back in the house some. When I am in the house, when I wakeup in the house, my day has a different direction and governance to it than when I wake up in, when I orient to, the studio. Nobody that I currently know relates well to any of this. Perhaps that shines some light on what you might even call my relief at finding not just the story of the Innermost House, but a community interested in the reflections allied with that story. :-)

    4. Rebecca Sylvan, it's lovely to meet you on here. I'm involved with Quakers too, and I have met through Diana's Innermost House what I think Quaker simplicity is all about: but rarely seen amongst us now. Encountering this has given me fresh energy for travelling the path.

    5. Alice, Maybe you are familiar with a book by Patricia Loring called Listening Spirituality, Spiritual Practice Among Friends, in which she boldly ventures that Friends probably avail themselves of only 10% of what our few but deep reaching tenets avail us. I don't know if that is the best way to make the point, but it does appear to me that, in general, we live rather thinly into the the potential of the Inner Light and the testimonies. Glad to find you here, Friend :-).

    6. That's such a good way to put it, that we probably avail ourselves of only 10%. That is so much what I am finding - realizing I can go deeper in - and find real wealth in the simplicity of the Quaker way. I have not read Loring's volume 1 (Individual practices) but have studied her volume on collective practices (Listening Spirituality vol 2). Perhaps I will manage to borrow vol 1 soon.

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  4. Hi, Rebecca, glad to have you here.

    Diana I feel for your loss of IH as you knew it. Perhaps it has prepared you for the next chapter of life? Since no two seconds are alike, then change is eventually inevitable. But, we are still eager to learn from your IH (and present) experiences.

    I would also like to hear from all of you folks how this website has changed you inwardly and outwardly. I feel embraced by all of the kind words I have received during my grieving period and it has given many a thought to pull back out to examine, then and now. I certainly have experience how quickly life can change. But, day by day, I am changing, too. Sometimes it takes a gentle nudge to head us down the path and sometimes it is more like riding a tsunami! Let us all journey together!

  5. Diana, are you able to share any of Michael's perspective about leaving IH and your current experiences? I am wondering if they mirror your own (if you are speaking for both of you) or if there are some, even subtle, differences in your outlook. Forgive me if this is redundant because I do understand that you two are so united, but I guess I still imagine there might be additional expressions or words of wisdom from Michael.

  6. Diana, I'm so sorry that I wasn't able to express myself in a more concrete way that you would be more easily able to understand. I can remember the years when my mind was so still that not only could I not remember basic concrete nouns, I also couldn't even imagine a PICTURE of an object in my thoughts. My mind was like a blank screen of opaque light. When my mind had stopped it was almost next to impossible for it to conjur up conceptual, abstract ideas, much less contemplate them. And asking me to try my best to think abstractly was just plain frustrating--not only could I not do it, I didn't WANT to! Why clutter up a still mind with inconsequential chatter? Now that I'm back to my old regular way of thinking, I find myself thinking a LOT in abstract thought almost as though all those years of non-thinking have had their ricochet effect on my thought patterns in the opposite direction! So, even if my words were not what you were able to 'hear', I know that in the end, you and I have met in the silent pauses BETWEEN the words and I'm so grateful for how your generous willingness to share your experiences has enriched my own perspectives and changed me in ways that have made me more aware of when I'm NOT aware! Much love to you and Michael, Diana. You are very special people and I'm lucky to have gotten to know you.

  7. All my prayers to you Diana. Be assured of our friendship and support. Julie


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