Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Heart is where the home is

Some weeks ago Elisabeth blogged on 10 things that make her happy. This invitation that was travelling the blogs got me thinking. I fished for one of my many journals and wrote my list. There were a number of precious happy-making 'things' jostling for position at the top of my list - the only way they settled on the page was to assure each of them they were not being prioritised. And right up there in that unranked uppermost bunch of blessings, was my home.

I've often said this place called me to herself. I used to walk the long straight valley at the base of my hill, and would invariably look up into the no-exit street, densely bushed and seemingly untouched by the taming hand of suburbia. If I could choose, this is the street where I would live, cash-strapped pm would whisper on her way past. I walked to the top on occasion, and remember my breath catching, the first time I peered through the vista of native bush to a small wooden bridge leading to a barely visible ramshackle two-storied house.

Eight years ago through a series of unexpected openings, that house became home. It has been a love affair that continues to this day. The garden is beautiful, never quite tidy; the multiple rooms are happy, the rough corners content to wait the year or three it might take for the flick of the paint brush to finish them off. I am softened by our relationship - made beautiful even. I told a friend I would bleed to death if I had to leave this place. It seemed an appropriate metaphor. An artery had opened up, and lifeblood flowed through it. For the first time ever, I spoke the truth when I said: I am home.

Late last year I did what I had been intending to do for some years. I attended a quaker meeting, an hour long gathering where people meet to be, to settle in the quiet, to open in their own way to worship, largely in silence. I keep returning, and over easter I travelled to the quaker settlement to learn more of the quaker traditions and to enter again that shared experience. In a different way, in a distinct way, once again I sensed myself coming 'home'.

Right now I am on a path that will teach me - please pam, learn well - more about home. By the end of this year, due to circumstances yes, but also a call to simplicity, this physical dearly loved home will be passed across, entrusted to others. It will no longer be my home.

It has taken me years - a lifetime - to begin to learn to receive. Now I am beginning to learn how to leave. I have been given a new metaphor. I see an organ, laden with capillaries, and one by one, with pain-staking and tender care, each tiny capillary is being cut and seared. There are many of them, and it will take the full nine months. Sometimes I wince, and already I find myself weeping easily. Yet even now, I have begun to dream. There is room in me for that little place down the bottom of the hill. I will move on, and I trust my heart will travel with me.


  1. Oh, Pam. Pangs! But you sound so certain, too. Or accepting. See you soon, x P

  2. Pam, this is such a poignant post - the stuff of leaving home, of moving on and of change.

    The Australian writer, Gillian Bouras writes in A Foreign Wife, the story of her life as an expatriot in Greece,

    ‘In the first hello I know I will hear the echo of goodbye.’

    I take comfort from these words.

    To me, happiness is where the home and the heart coexist and happiness does not occur in isolation, it survives alongside all the other emotions.

    Journey well.

  3. Thanks you both for your resonancing. (No such word but there should be). Its an ever-changing inner landscape. Elisabeth, your comment - the echo of goodbye in every hello.. What a challenge life lays at our feet. A person I spoke to recently talked about the wisdom she gained from two different retreats she attended - one focused on Buddhist meditation, the other with a Jewish Rabbi. The focus of the former - detachment, and the wisdom of the second (in her words): "attach attach attach". And of course both are true, in order to live well. The secret may be as you say Elisabeth, in creating a large inner receptacle, where all emotions are welcome, in any combination they choose to come! Thanks again x

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  5. Oh, this post is so good for me.
    Because the house my mother loved, a year after her death when I was twelve, was sold, the furnishings she had so carefully chosen were disposed of, dispensed with, I somehow lost trust in the idea of home...
    Now, at 71, I do have a house, have had for many years, but haven't really settled it as a 'home...' but I want to change that, change this house, move somewhere for the lastish part of my life and take on the issue of 'home.'
    I admire your simplifying and admire that you were able to stitch yourself to this lovely environment for however long...
    and wish you well over the next nine months as you move along in your transition.
    thank you

  6. Melissa, I have found this late in the piece, and you may not revisit .. but I have really enjoyed reading your response. Home is such an interesting concept. Such an interesting relationship. And like finding a lover, it can't be conjured, and yet there's something about being ready that makes it possible... I remember, when I found this place, scoffing the notion that things can't you happy. I was deliriously happy, and it was this oh so tangible thing that had done it.Or should I say, all those non-tangibles that can't be named or simply claimed. All a bit of a mystery. I wish you well as you open up to new possibilities of home. Fingers crossed for me too.