Saturday, November 10, 2012

Innering Time

When I looked in on your words this morning I was greeted by something approaching Great Silence!

It was so like my experience of Innermost House that I wrote a little about it. Now I return to find it not silent anymore!

Sherry, you speak of therapeutic words.  I have lived so far from the world of therapies and cures that I had not thought of it that way. You are right.  The Conversation we have shared here has been therapeutic to me.

I have gone round and round trying to put into words my experience of the Innermost Life, and again and again you have all somehow understood me.  You have often explained me to myself!  In a hundred different ways you have said, "We love you and care about what happens in your life."  Thank you for saying those simple words Sherry.  Thank you all.

Still there is the silence.  I have always found silence a companionable presence.  I have many times rested on her breast.  She has many times restored me.  Silence at Innermost House echoes from the walls.  It is in the bowl of tea we share, in the looks we exchange, in the common air we breathe.  It is a shared silence.

It was a need of silence that first took us to Innermost House.  We needed silence to feel the failure of our search for Place, and to search out its meaning.  It is for that reason I suppose that when we first moved to the land we were looking for a cave.  A cave would have been nothing but silent emptiness.  

Innermost House was in many ways a kind of cave.  But out of that inner emptiness arose a question.  And out of that question arose the Conversation that grew to fill out our empty space with food and drink and fire and books. Innermost House came to enclose, as some of you described it recently, the whole of a mystic life.

I passed a long while in silence after Innermost House.  It was the silence that restored me.  But it was your words that healed me.  How generous you have been with your words.

I think of those days now as I look forward to the realization of your plans and dreams.  I know how impossible it all is, and how necessary.  The world, for such people as we are, is uninhabitable without our innermost place, whatever it is, wherever we may find it.

For some I think it may prove to be a wholly inward place, though of that I have little experience.  For others it will be a room or a corner of a room, as it has been for us many times.  For others still it will be a spare house, hardly furnished but for the things of prayer.  Even in the littleness of my own life, there have been so many possibilities.

Some I think are born for silence.  Others for words.  I was born for the Conversation between the two.  But here even our silences we must somehow communicate with words.  We have only our words.

Let us meet next time and begin to make our way with words into experiencing life at Innermost House.  It is autumn, the innering time.  I have longed to prepare a simple meal again in that little black cast iron pot, set over coals in the hearth at Innermost House.  

Let’s prepare a first Thanksgiving meal together.  In my heart I am so grateful.


  1. "The innering time". Perfect description of autumn.
    A Carmelite nun I had the joy to meet earlier this year said she thought that though we enjoyed our times of conversation, human beings are really made for silence.
    Certainly in my own life, the conversation that flows through every day here (in our home in England) between the members of our household, and here online between kindred souls linked around the world, delights my heart but needs to be digested in silence and solitude.
    When that happens - that you look in here and find silence - I think it isn't usually that no one has read your post, but that we are thinking over your words, and will reply later.
    Silence, words, whatever - we are with you.

  2. "I have longed to prepare a simple meal again in that little black cast iron pot".

    Diana, I have no idea why, but your little pot simmers in my mind more than any other item in your home, including the fire. It represents and encapsulates so much of IH much to me--a going back to the simple roots of an earlier time, an honoring of the fruits of the field that have been touched by the sweetness of the sun, a simplicity of doing only one thing in the moment. But most of all, it represents to me the embodiment of the nourishment that IH provides the soul, even as it goes about its ordinary function in its humblest and lowliest of visages. It's like it's the container for all that is good and right about IH and maybe I see it as the visual representation of the potential for each of us to hold (and ingest!) what you've reached out to give us. I can't tell you how often I've searched the internet looking for such a pot (most of the ones I have seen either have feet or a rounded lid that make the pot appear to have 'too much'). Your fire seems the richer for its presence--somehow more complete.

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    2. Typo!

      Oh, and Diana, since you're bringing 'gratitude' to our first thanksgiving meal together, I volunteer to bring the 'awe' with a side salad of 'wonder' (and of course, a great big smile)!

    3. Pam I think of that black little pot too :)

    4. I think anything in that pot would be yummy....just like anything in IH is so warm and just enough

  3. I like the term "innering time". I need to spend a lot of time there in the next little while. This is a perfect "innering day" to have a memorial for my dear, dear Dale. 70 degrees and sunny in the middle of November is somewhat rare here. But I will be grateful for it. I will have my family there to shore me up as I am sure I will need. No need for comments or condolences. But I would ask if you would silently pray for us this morning. Just wanted to mention, sorry to interrupt the post, so back to it.

    Autumn is my favorite time of the year and this one is more beautiful than we have had in years. I, selfishly, like to think it was all just for me! Simple people get simpler, turn more inward, reflect at bit. Silence is essential. I should be grateful that I have plenty of silence and some day I am sure I will.

    My first granddaughter was born on Thanksgiving and my last on December 5. So I have much to be thankful for this time of year. So, I will bring "sweetness" ("Sissy, remember to say please and thank you") and "distraction or entertainment" according to the way you look at it in "do NOT throw your peas in the floor!" Thanksgivings should never be dull!

    Love you guys.

  4. Diana, we certainly have understood your words and are glad you have understood our silence. There are many changes that happen to me on the level underneath words and thoughts. Some of your posts have stirred up questions and others, like the last one, just sifted through the layers of my being. The energy shifts and I am different. Different as a result of your words. So thank you.

    I have already celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada, but I enjoy getting to express thanks a second time. I will bring something savory... so we can savor the day and time together.. whether in words or mindful silence.

  5. Hello, Diana, and friends,

    I have been standing in the doorway, listening to you, ever since I came upon photos of IH on another blog. May I join this conversation?

    I frequently work with animals, both wild and domestic, and they have taught me that if I will be still and silent, they will come near. The human world is full of idle chatter that signifies nothing. What has impressed me here is that words are carefully chosen. I look forward to learning more from all of you. And Diana, I am thankful to you for sharing IH with us!

    1. Welcome, Vanessa! Yes, do pull up a chair by the fire and bring along a floppy dog or a languorous cat with you that we can gently stroke when we need a cuddle! Working with small children is often much like working with animals. They, too, respond much better when they're allowed to approach us at their own pace and in their own way. Most people forget that toddlers engage in parallel play before they progress to interactive play. Sometimes just sitting quietly next to a little child (or any other person, for that matter!) while they pick up their toys and put them down again is so much more real and companionable than any idle chatter that we may use to try to bridge the silent gap.

    2. Please do join us Vanessa. Welcome!

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  7. "Silence at Innermost House echoes from the walls. It is in the bowl of tea we share, in the looks we exchange, in the common air we breathe."

    What we perceive on the outside (that is, our response to neutral event) is always experienced first on the inside, and then mirrored for us to witness. When we don't feel the silence within our own hearts, even if we're in a chapel that vibrates with the energetic quality of Silence, we may notice the quiet as a counterpoint to our own disquiet but won't be able to fully appreciate the subtlety of its depths. I daresay, Diana, both you and Michael could probably perceive the underlying Silence in the cacaphony of the cheers of fans at a football stadium during the playoffs!

    My own experiences have taught me that accessing inner silence is dependent on having a mind at rest so that my attention can be drawn into the cave of my heart. In this cave the silence feels deep, dark, and full, yet impersonal at the same time. But, the real test of imbibing silence is how well I can hold onto that sensation of silence regardless of outside circumstances.

    Lately, I've not been holding on to the silence too well. I'm fine at home, but at work I've been feeling a rush of emotions I haven't felt in a very, very long time--crackling anger, impatience, thwarted expectations I didn't even realize I had, an inner restlessness that urges me to 'escape', and a sense of groundlessness under my feet. The pot of my emotions has been bubbling in a quickening boil and the heated steam arising from its surface is obscuring the inner vision of the silence that I love so much. But, I know that emotions come and go while the Silence always continues unabated, waiting to be acknowledged. The peeling back of the layers of my ego that I'm experiencing now and the purging of the energy that is being released as a result is a good thing, even though it can feel very difficult to stay with sometimes. It's almost like I'm experiencing my soul laboring to give birth to itself, struggling to break free of the caul of my ego.

  8. Diana, it's been a pleasure so far to read everything you've written and to learn as much as I can about the Innermost House and your thinking behind it. I only had to look through the photo gallery to say "Yes, that's it." That is the kind of tiny house that I yearn to live in, or something similar.

    I am forty years of age. Despite working in the high-tech field for the past twenty-odd years, or perhaps because of it, I have long sought after the hand-made, low-tech, and classic. I have studied the Shakers and the Arts and Crafts movement and the Mennonites and the Japanese tea ceremony and 1960s communes and minimalism and letterpress printing and tiny houses and the new urban homesteading, there is something there, some common thread to all of it, something deep and true that I long for. The Innermost House crystallizes your truth beautifully. I posted to the Facebook community as well with some additional words.

    I am in a smallish apartment right now with my partner and we could go smaller yet, methodically stripping down life to the essentials, but never losing sight of quality. My love for minimalism is more honored in the breach than the observance, unfortunately :) We still have too much STUFF. I think an ideal lifestyle for me is a small house with room for creative pursuits and a sort of "high quality minimalism" that the Innermost House exemplifies, everything carefully considered. It's far more appealing to me than living the typical suburban or urban geek-lifestyle that i've been in all my life.

    I am very interested in practical concerns. For example what do you like to cook? What are the contents of your kitchen, either kitchen tools or pantry? You mentioned you send out laundry, which makes sense. What about home repairs and maintenance? Plumbing? Without electricity, how did you charge a cell phone or run a laptop? Was living in the Innermost House punctuated with forays to the 'outside world' or were you there all the time? And did you accomodate guests while you and your husband were in the house, and if so, how? I am full of questions. Do not feel like you need to answer all of them. :)

    Thank you for this place.

  9. Diana,

    It appears from the last couple of posts that you're acclimating to the World wherever you are. You seem to be finding your balance in secular America. It helps me exhale. I worried and prayed for you.

    I am in a silent mood of late, but I have a dark story that should be told so that we all remember humility and gratitude.

    The second day I was on this property renovating this shed into a livable space, a small boy came marching up the hill from across the road as I was working. I am a large bearded man. Undaunted he said, "I need work."

    The property is in a very poor rural part of Alabama where I grew up. The kid is eleven and small for his size. I put him to work on the spot--after I fed him a bologna sandwich and a mountain dew--he was hungry.

    As we worked--I could tell immediately he was sharp--I asked about his grades. He said he was behind by two grade levels in reading and it embarrassed him. Cut to the chase, I've been helping him on Wednesdays and in two months he's already caught up and getting A's in reading.

    Last Friday night, I went outside and there were Sheriff's Deputies with blue lights spinning everywhere at the bottom of the hill. It went on for hours into the dawn. There are a few mobile homes and an RV across the road from my tabernacle. I was unsure what had happened.

    He came on Wednesday. The man he knew well in the RV and liked "even though he drank too much killed hisself blew his brains out with a 12 gauge."

    That is all the boy said about it. The boy is tough as nails at 11.

    I bring this up because we all talk about ourselves here all the time and our innerselves. This is the season of gratitude--for giving thanks and giving back.

    Also, we have veterans to thank for all this freedom.

    But on a deeper level, I think when one grasps any level of stasis of equanimity that a way to fortify is to give to others-to reach out-to love.

    1. And a little child shall lead them...Thank you, Large Bearded Man, for sharing this with us today.

      Children these days witness TOO MUCH of what they should never see. What most of us grown folks here have never seen ourselves, is played out daily on television as entertainment for innocent eyes to see. Even as a nurse, I never saw someone who killed hisself and blew his brains out with a 12 gauge. That is indeed a tough little boy. He lost his friend. I'm glad you have been around there for him, D.B. God bless, and again, thank you.

    2. D.B. you are probably saving this boy's life. At least you are giving him a toe hold in survival. He won't forget you.

    3. I have done very little for the boy. A couple of hours a week on the reading--he is doing the homework--and he knows if he is hungry I'll feed him and he does not abuse it.

      He is the one with a miraculous--given his role models--inner drive to keep his head above his circumstances somehow. He is a marvel and inspiration to me.

      Gratitude check every time I see him.

    4. Here is a little quote I read today:
      "When I live in gratitude, I am empty with fullness. As my head gets empty, my heart gets full swelling and overflowing with gratitude. The result of that would be that my focus is not exclusively on me and I have room to take in others into my heart. Overflowing Gratitude washes selfishness and self-interest away. As light is spread before me, above me, below me and around me, I disappear into that light and merge with no identity left of my own." - Padma Ayyagari

      Today I will be grateful... and 'empty with fullness.'

    5. Exactly. Beautiful prose, Leah.

    6. Lovely, Leah. Thanks for sharing this quote!

  10. "I have always found silence a companionable presence." Me too, Diana! I am always saying "Me too!" here. Thanks so much.

    Now, in your speaking to us of "innering time", I think I'm seeing a real seasonable-ness to my own chattiness and my clamming-up times. Maybe I'm preparing to hibernate? I'm quietest of all in the Winter. Now I've brought my wood up to the house and put it in the dry. I've lit the stove and I'm cooking inside now. (Diana, I hope you've dug out your little pot and fixed a little something in it with whatever fire you can manage. Such good medicine.) I sit and stare for hours on end with perfect delight. I read a bit and stroll up and down the holler. If it weren't for getting the wood, I would be the most sinfully lazy lady you have ever seen. If you don't hear from me sometimes, that's all it is.

    What shall I bring to our feast? We will already be fat and happy with what has already been offered by our fellows here. So I will bring us a WHOLE CASE of the giggles and we will laugh like crazy people before the fire until tears stream down our faces and our heads fall off--and a good time is had by all. Kisses, friends!

    1. Julie, it's good to hear that you've simply been enjoying the 'hunkering down' time of autumn. I was wondering myself what had happened to our wonderful conversationalist with her lively ideas and insights! Your life in the holler sounds so lovely. I have a nature preserve near my home but don't feel comfortable walking in the woods alone in a public venue (we had a serial bike path rapist/murderer here about two years ago who made women in my suburb just a little bit more gun-shy about venturing forth into secluded areas alone). Somehow walking around the block in my own neighborhood just does NOT cut it for me in terms of nurturing my need for communing with nature! You're so lucky to live right smack dab in the middle of the country...


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