Friday, December 7, 2012
We are almost there now! I read your words today with such a blessed sense of relief.
Julie, what a deliverance you are to me! "Focus is often a matter of deciding what things you're not going to do." Yes. Until that focus narrowed to converge upon Innermost House, deciding what things not to do was all I could do. All I could say was no and no. I could not accept the necessity of a world that was meaningless and Placeless to me.
I feel just as you say. "No fine thing was ever accomplished by acceptance." At least it has not been my destiny to arrive at anything fine that way.
Acceptance may be the last, best thing—as it was for me at Innermost House—but things don't seem to begin that way for me. And I am now beginning again.
Leah you are as patient as a flower. Let me return to your question about acceptance, because your comment today helps me understand what you were asking differently. You said, "I have been trying to think what meaning I was trying to impart when I spoke of "acceptance" and I think it was an acceptance of what has happened. An acknowledgment that the life you knew at IH has ended and your life would never be the same."
I so wish to say plainly what I mean. Innermost House was in the world. It is now lost to the world. What I possess of it inwardly is all that's left. I accept that unreservedly. I even embrace it. My course in life has changed.
I mourned for a year the passing away of an eternity I believed would never end. There have been days when I felt only an utter emptiness. I feel now what that emptiness was preparing for me. Innermost House is missing from the world, but it is not missing within me.
Pam, when you are so nearly silent I feel that I have vexed you. Give me your hands and let me speak to you. I do not need or seek more peace than I possess. I have enough to do the work that now is given me, and what will come will come when I plant myself more firmly on this new shore. I do not need more happiness. I already possess a lifetime's share and more of personal satisfaction. My unacceptance is not what it appears.
I am not a worldly person. I may never progress beyond forever beginning again. I am stuck with it whether I like it or not, and thankfully I do like it.
But because I have lived among the woodland birds and beasts and trees who share the beginning with me, it is easy to forget the people I have chosen for my daily companions. I have lived for a woodland eternity in one room with Achilles and Hector, with Socrates and Pericles and Aristotle, with Abraham and Moses, with Jesus and Siddhartha, with Arjuna and Confucius and Mohammed. I have lived with heroes. I have breathed their living breath.
I do not speak of books, but of living, breathing, speaking spirits. I have known Washington and Lincoln, Emerson and Thoreau near as their contemporaries must have known them. I have known them at their truest and their best. I have loved them and suffered with them. I have rejoiced with them.
And they none of them set out accepting what I would not accept.
The wonder to me is that my simple unacceptance has been enough, and they have loved me in return. They have loved the beginning in me, and valued my memories of the beginning as their own.
Sweet Becky and Alice, you are right. I agree with you. The living seed of peace lies within. It is only that, in my experience, there must be a great emptiness to receive that peace, or it dies before it has a chance to take root and live. Then we are forever left putting on peace like a cloak to conceal our unrest.
I now know what real emptiness is, and I have intimations every day of such a peace as I have never known in the world. I can no longer wait for dawn but stir from bed in darkness to greet the morning star.
And Rebecca, there you are waking to my self-same thoughts. Yes, maybe we checked that acceptance box somewhere else. And I would gladly check it again to keep faith with this incarnated condition.
Dear Dewey, thank you truly for your prayers. I am beholden to you, and I am grateful. Let's you and I unite to pray for Mr. William Least-Heat Moon.
Acceptance to me means accepting the truth before me. If Innermost House is lost to the world it is lost to the world, and I will not pretend it is not a loss.
But it is within me now, and I will speak of it and rejoice that it ever was.
For nothing now can change one fact: that somewhere once in all the world there was a foursquare house where all the ages and races and nations met, where all the knowledges and experiences of women and men were healed and made whole. To have known it once is enough forever!
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Tides advance and recede, and there are two shores to every ocean. Truly Rebecca, I do not know which of us is more affected by the other.
Leah and Becky, Rebecca, Julie and Sherry, we meet here to negotiate our various courses in life. I am at least as much in search of my bearings now as any of you.
Yes Julie, I do trust in my fate. But I have never known what to want, and I do not know now.
That is why I cannot quite even wish for things. I have always had only my special needs, which seem more to act through me than for me. I just try to stay out of their way. They know better than I what is necessary.
Leah, you ask if the love of one's fate means to me “the acceptance of what must be and a belief in the ultimate good, or at least the lessons that fate will bring.”
A love of fate to me cannot mean a learning of lessons. I have never succeeded in learning lessons, even as a girl. Lessons seem to be beyond me.
Nor does a love of my fate mean an acceptance of what must be. I do not accept what must be. People have told me for as long as I can remember what must be, and I do not accept it.
If I had accepted what must be, Innermost House would never have been. I accept that the first Innermost House could no longer be, but I do not accept that an Innermost House cannot be. Nor do I insist that it must be again. I only insist that it was, and that without it something is missing.
But the ultimate good—in this I believe with all my heart, and I believe I always will. It is only that ultimate is far away. I do not believe that the world out there is all there can be. It was against that world that Innermost House was made. Innermost House is what cannot be in a world where things must be as they are.
I know that a great many people desire peace today. I too want peace. But I am not willing to pay the price of accepting whatever happens to be for it. I do not care if the whole world unites to compel it upon me.
I have lived for timeless years a unity of night and day, of cold and warmth, of growth and decay and death and life. If I am compelled to live in a world of endless electronic day, of perpetual summer and youth, then I will live in it.
But I do not accept it as all of what must be.
Innermost House is against the law in most places. It is unsupportably expensive. Those who want it cannot afford it, and those who can afford it don't want it. The life it requires is too plain. The thinking it demands is too high. It is unreal, impossible, misguided.
But the wonder is that within its walls I accept the whole of the way things are. I can accept the whole of the modern world, and the ancient world, and all the worlds between them. I can accept the worlds of gain and loss, and life and death, from within the walls of Innermost House.
It is Fate I truly love, Beautiful Necessity. My private destiny has meaning to me only in relation to that. If it proves my destiny to live in a new Innermost House, then I will live in it and speak from it. If my destiny lies elsewhere, then I will speak of it and declare that something is missing.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Leah, last week you asked about my husband's experience of leaving Innermost House. You wondered if it mirrors my own or if there are some subtle differences.
Michael and I are two sides of one life. It is only that I am this side of us and he is the other side. In many ways it was stranger for him than for me to leave Innermost House. To the visiting world of our guests, he was Innermost House.
There is a phrase that comes to us I think from the Stoic philosophers—Amor fati. It means "the love of one's fate." I have heard it interpreted as stoical resignation and acceptance.
Whatever it means to the philosophers, that has not wholly been my experience. I have lived for thirty years united to one whose love has never recoiled from our destiny. And I have never known him to be resigned to anything, but always to seek a way to its meaning.
I say this now because I know all the frustrations and discouragements of seeking an Innermost Life in an unyielding world. I want to encourage you to do with all your heart whatever you feel in your heart is best.
You think you do not know my husband, but you do. Everyone who has ever seen the photographs of our life at Innermost House has seen him. For what you see is him, not me. I am the half of us you hear.
If Innermost House is beautiful, it was his love of our fate that made it beautiful, even his love of our fate that made it possible to leave it.