Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A gift of God

When it’s Christmas or my birthday, I ask God for a present.  One year I asked Him for long hair.  He said OK but I’d have to take a while unwrapping it. 

This year I felt fraught and frazzled on Christmas Day.  I have discovered that I cannot cope with days when a lot happens – I disintegrate into bad behaviour – so I recently started the strategy of one-event-days.  Each day I permit only one of the events that wash away my topsoil, and let the rest of the time be for quiet, thoughtful occupations – housework, gardening, cooking, reading, sewing, laundry etc.  Basically it’s social interaction that I can’t do for long, and Christmas Day had a great deal of that in it, so that when I finally retired I felt a bit harrowed.

Consequently, I asked God for a present – if I might please have something like a cool drink for my soul, a restorative for my inner condition.  Then I went online and mooched around for a bit googling on subjects like ‘living simply +house’, ‘simple living +kitchen’ etc: I wanted some images of peaceful domestic interiors, plain and light-filled.

In so doing I came across The Innermost House; and that was my Christmas present from God, the restorative for my soul, with the ability to re-orientate me towards my right north star, the direction my life is headed.

I looked up every link I could find to discover as much as I could - here . . . and here . . . and here . . . and have allowed my soul to marinade in the beauty and serenity, the discipline and spirituality of Diana Lorence’s home and approach to daily life.

On the actual Innermost House website, the most fruitful parts to read are the ones headed In Diana’s Words I and In Diana’s WordsII.  If you click on those, you then have a series of essays to choose from.

The images of the house are just amazing.

I like the way we live here, and for our household a large house with a vegetable garden is the right way to go.  I don’t choose to emulate Diana Lorence’s tiny house in a woodland setting, even though I am totally in love with it.  But though our homes are different, I feel we are sufficiently on the same track for me to learn an immense amount from her – the disciplined simplicity of environment, the discernment and choice of the real, rejecting the synthetic and artificial, the attraction of the natural with its healing and comforting power, the necessity of silence, the nourishment of starlight, firelight, moonlight, sunlight and half-light; the importance of slowness, quietness, space and peace; starting with the inner life and allowing that to work outwards so that home becomes and expression of meaning . . .


Just beautiful.


revsandy said...

How I agree. I would love to get to the stage of one event a day which involves social interaction! Like you I get drained and it brings out the worst in me. Enjoying some quiet time over this Christmas break.

Ember said...

Hey, friend! Good to meet you. Glad you are finding a bit of space for peace :0)

Penny Reeve said...

I find encouragement in your decision to do one event a day, I often over book myself too and end out too exhausted to be of any use or encouragement to others!
Love the links to the tiny houses and the lovely spaces. Do you ever find the line between ideal and reality hard to define and live? (I share my life with my wonderful husband, 11 year old daughter and 9 year old and almost 2 year old sons)

Ember said...

Hi Penny :0)

What I find is that as Toinette Lippe said, "Problems arise when things accumulate", and that applies in both time and space. Drawing closer to the ideal in the realm of the real (and maybe the ideal varies from person to person and time to time) is essentially about living mindfully, which cannot be done very well with a cluttered schedule and amid much impedimenta.
I find that things have lives and agendas of their own, so that the more of them I have the more I am drawn into attending to them.
Obviously concentration and dispersal are the inverse of each other, and in my life I really want to be able to concentrate - I find events (especially social events) and possessions disperse my attention and interfere with my ability to concentrate.
With children, the solutions for me are out of doors. The most restful day we had in a long time with my grandson (two and a half) was the afternoon we spent outdoors - me, my husband, my daughter and her son - drinking tea and chatting at the same time as minding and slowly feeding a small bonfire (me and my daughter) and creating a raised bed for veggies (my husband). I was as though, in the greater space of the garden, with plenty interesting going on, mud to dig in, projects to share in, nothing to break or knock over, all the challenges of interacting with a two-and-a-half-year-old melted away.

Daisyanon said...

Very interesting Ember, I love the things you find for us. I have a bit of a niggle about the Innermost House, but I am not sure why. I think maybe it is because it all sounds lovely and the pictures are wonderful, but maybe the reality of daily life is a bit more gritty???

What does she do all day???

I think somewhere on her site she says that she spends a lot time, or is currently actually living, in a monastery.

How does a person without electricity manage a website (I think a friend is doing it for her - but doesn't this defeat the object in some way?)

She says that they haven't owned many of their houses (not sure about this one), they are provided for them by, presumably wealthy, partners. Which seems like a bit of a cop out.

I like the idea of simplifying things and have made some progress with this, but I know I couldn't live like this or even anything approaching it.

I would have to kill my husband, or he me, which would be a shame.

So here I am making judgemental assumptions about someone I know nothing much about.

Anyway, it has set up some scratchy thoughts and dissonances for me and made me think a lot, so thank you.

Daisyanon said...

I've now read all the Q&A's on the original Tiny House blog post by Diana. That has answered some of my questions.

She uses a 'fluff and fold' laundry service, and they have a car and a cell phone.

I think I am carping, it's not really possible for anyone living in a Western European society to be totally without electricity, which doesn't mean we shouldn't be mindful about our consumption.

I just slightly wonder if the difference in carbon footprint between using a laundry service and having your own electrical laundry appliances is that great, or if the choice itself is any big spiritual deal.

Sorry, I can't quite get to what is niggling me about it all. Maybe I am missing the point.

Ember said...

Absolutely. I had the same questions, Daisyanon! I was discussing The Innermost House with the Badger last night, and puzzling over how her days would be filled with no garden to dig, little to clean, only archaic reading material available and no space for all the stuff she'd need to spin, knit, quilt, do carpentry etc etc.
We concluded she must spend a significant proportion of her time away from home! Or else the life-coaching she and her husband so has reached such a level that it has become a full-time occupation.
It's similar in some ways to Catherine de Hoeck Doherty's "Poustinia", and is inspiring and infuriating in the same way!
I felt sure when I read about it that it was not so much that I wanted to emulate or reproduce the Innermost House and the way of life she describes, as that it had a great deal to teach me and offers tremendous inspiration. x

Penny Reeve said...

Ahh yes, outdoors!
Thanks for your thoughtful response, Pen.

Ember said...