Friday, August 27, 2010

My True Home

There's more to say about those "Five Question," but I've been interrupted.  In the midst of our travels across country, we got a phone call telling us that our bid on a foreclosure we had submitted before we left Florida (and that I had been delighted to forget) had just been accepted. 

Good news and bad news both!   Selling our home this spring and taking to the "open road" as nomads has been a living inquiry into the question of what HOME means to me, in the truest sense.  Then suddenly with that one phone call,  the question became very immediate and very concrete.  Did we or did we not want the HOME?  The interruption of this blog resulted from shifting my focus away from the quest for my "True Home" and towards the decision to sign a contract for a place we that we could now own.

My practical side can certainly recognize the value of ownership, a good investment, timing in the housing market, etc. etc. But as for the rest of me - Oh My!  I had so recently felt liberated by letting go of possessions - the house, furniture, fixtures, clothes and collectibles and yes, even the enormous quantity of books I had carted from one place to another for years!

Once on the road, as we traveled the scenic roads in Georgia and South Carolina and then along the Blue Ridge Parkway,  trees and wildlife were our new neighbors and I felt as expansive as Julie Andrews with arms wide open, singing "The Hills Are Alive..."  The thought of another roof and more walls,  practical as that might be for a future time, began to elicit some kind of anticipatory anxiety for me.  I was afraid I might let my perspective succumb to a mental contraction.

Thich Nhat Hanh 2009
Last year around this time (August 2009),  I had the privilege of attending a Mindfulness retreat with the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh.The retreat had been titled "Be Peace, Be Joy, Be Hope."  Sitting with hundreds of others in meditation, I followed  the sound of the bell and let it lead me back to my " "True Home."  Spacious and peaceful. 

Sunrise Walking Meditation, Stonehill Retreat 2009
During the walking meditation,  the words of our teacher "Thay" helped me concentrate as I placed one foot down after the other.  "Peace is every step," I repeated to myself as I brought my attention to the solid sensation of the earth supporting me in the present moment.  "I have arrived." With every step.  Here and now.  "I am home." 

In the rarified ambience of the retreat, I was grateful to have experienced a beautiful place within, beyond the mental limitations of my thoughts and emotions.  Now, faced with the prospect of another home in the material sense, I recall the peacefulness of the retreat and strive to center myself again. 
Just as a snail carries its home outside itself, I too carry my HOME, but within.  Being mindful of that, I begin to ease into my comfort zone again, as I let go of the fear that my external  home will entrap me.   Knowing that my mindfulness is the ONLY thing over which I have control, I can celebrate this newly purchased property as a shelter to which I can return, a space to host guests, a place to call home.  Wherever I come or go, to places strange or familiar, far or near, that I own or not -- I breathe in and out, knowing that my home within can be my only True home.


  1. Hoping that this post appears connected to your last entry - but not sure that I have the hang of this yet....
    Ah well, you have been writing about risk-taking - This is not a not a tiger to face, just a post, perhaps in the wrong place!

    I appreciated the power of the five questions and the way that your writing invited me to think more deeply about the groups that I choose for myself. As I am beginning a class by Cheri Huber entitled "What you practice is what you have" I am inspired to look at the groups in which I participate and consider what they support and call forth in me.
    Like you, I too seek places of emotional safety - yet I also experience that it is often the groups that I endow with emotional danger that show me where I need to work. I'd love to think about this with you a bit and explore this some more. I suspect for me my use of "safety" and "danger" labels are less descriptions of reality and more about my own densely packed belief systems......

    Time now though to tend to the tasks that I have chosen for the day.
    Before I go, I wanted to share this prescription with you (from "Resident Alien: Quentin Crisp Explains it All" quoted by Shelia Hancock in Just Me.) It had spoken to me on my trip and seemed, when I came home, to be what you were thinking and writing about as well.
    "Neither look forward where there is doubt, nor backward where there is regret. Look inward and ask yourself not if there is anything out in the world that you want and had better grab quickly before nightfall, but whether there is anything inside you that you have not yet unpacked."
    Off to unpack!
    Hugs, S.

  2. Wonderful to read your reflections here, even if misplaced under the wrong post. Thanks for adding your insight. Lots of other readers couldn't figure out how to comment at all and I haven't been much help!

    As for danger: our perceptions seem to create reality. But confronting danger, or perceived danger, is another way of confronting our construction of reality. Once we can see what's there, we can begin to deconstruct it.

    I like the quote. The unpacking seems to be never ending.