Leah, you have asked some very good and sensitive questions. I want to try to answer at least a couple of them tonight, and more on Friday.
You ask about our many moves, and if I would now prefer to have “figured it all out” sooner and saved myself some time and energy. I know it is hard to believe it could take twenty years, but we were actually going as fast as we could!
It was more than that, of course. I realize now that through all those moves I was working something out inwardly. Or perhaps I should say we were working something in outwardly. Really it was both.
Our moves served two purposes so closely bound together they were only distinguishable in retrospect. For my husband they served to work toward a wholeness of meaning. His was an outward search, where he worked that meaning into himself until at last he came to embody it.
For me those moves served the purpose of working through inner distress, an inner search for a feeling I could not forget and I could not find. It was a working things out of me inwardly, until I reached the emptiness I remembered, the “white room” I left home looking for more than thirty years ago.
Our many moves and homes certainly permitted us to work through a world of trials and errors. We evolved together, my husband, our room, and I. We began over and over again together. Moving our entire life so often had many practical disadvantages, but one advantage it had was that it permitted us to start completely afresh many times. We were forever rethinking the whole of things back to the beginning.
That is I think what Sherry and Julie and Dewey are doing now, thinking things back to the beginning. It is an outer and an inner movement. I don't know how else to do it. And, for us at least, I don't think we could have come at it more abruptly and remained whole. We had to untangle a thousand knots, and tie up a thousand loose ends, to put the beginning back together again.
You would like to know what kind of a relationship it is that exists without ordinary internal conflict in such a small space. And Bri, you very reasonably ask if I somehow surrendered my identity to my marriage—if my husband and I are not still different people?
Pam and Julie, you have each offered very generous and compelling explanations of this strange state of things. I cannot improve on what has been said already.
We have spoken of how Michael and I are really just one. Now you have me wondering with your explorations if it would not be more accurate still to speak of three of us as one—of my husband and me and Innermost House together.
Out in the separate world, my husband has a great deal of what you might call savoir faire. He always has a feeling for the center of things, so he is not thrown off balance by unexpected or even desperate situations. He carries a kind of moving stillness around with him.
I am the opposite. I am always off balance in the world. You never know what I'll say next. I never know either. That can make for some awkward situations when you have practical business to transact. So when it is necessary to negotiate a difficult practical situation, it is best that Michael deal with it alone.
Together at Innermost House it is different. Our relationship there is centered and intensified without complication. It is the complication of worldly life I find so disorienting, so incomprehensible. On the other hand, it is the undivided intensity of life at Innermost House that I most miss in the world.
In worldly ways my husband and I are not extraordinarily alike, we are extraordinarily different. It is just that the nature of the difference is somehow such that we make one person between us at Innermost House without any pieces left over. So you might say that the one person we two are between us is more the one existence we three are together. Oh dear!
But before you despair of my explanation having gone from bad to worse, let me try once more. That same one existence that we three are together has proved again and again capable of absorbing others into its oneness who enter into it in spirit.
So in a way it has nothing to do with me or us or anyone else as persons, and more to do with oneness. It is as if what you leave behind you at the door of Innermost House is your identity, your person-ality. That is the character of our marriage, and that is our way of receiving guests.
We three and our guests evolved together. There have been as many of us as there have been homes along the way. For each home was the Innermost House of that stage. With each one we left as much of our personal selves outside as we could, as much as the house made possible.
There are important questions remaining, especially concerning the inner character of the Conversation and about changes in the next Innermost House. Those I look forward to addressing soon.