We shape our dwellings . . . thereafter our dwellings shape us. – Winston Churchill
A powerful statement. One that invites contemplation – and accountability. One that gives us another pair of glasses through which to view the places we call home – and our experiences within them.
I was given a new view of my home and myself a number of years ago when my husband left me professing to love another woman. Looking back on one of my journal entries from that time I see a woman confronted with the consequences of the dwelling and the marriage she had helped to shape.
“… So little of me is reflected back. Ironic that he’s accused me of being controlling. Most of our home reflects him! His stuff. His furniture. His nic nacs. The part that is me is how I tried to arrange what was his so I could fit in – rather than add something of my own … And I’ve done the same with him emotionally. I’ve tried to work around and arrange his emotional stuff so I could fit in, all the while feeling guilty for pushing myself on him … I don’t want to arrange someone else’s stuff anymore, without adding me to it. That’s why it hurts to stay home. I see so much of him and my ‘arrangings’.”
What an eye opener! Words scribbled on a page volunteered a wisdom I did not know could come from me. Was this true for every home we had shared? How invisible had I become? As this man packed up eighteen years of marriage I wondered what was in our home that would remind him of the woman he was leaving?
Seeking sanctuary deep within the pages of my journal and the extra bedroom of a dear friend’s home I wrote,
“… Lea’s place draws me in. Somehow, I see me here. Perhaps a ‘me’ that has disappeared? I do see a little of myself in our kitchen … the purple curtains and my vintage doll dishes on the little shelf over the sink! Dishes that I played with and treasured, knowing that they were once my mother’s. The innocence of childhood tea parties, shared between generations. Kitchen, a room that supports nourishment. Purple, a color that supports my spiritual nature. Mom, a woman of spiritual strength – my mentor. What a powerful, subliminal message!”
On a scavenger hunt in my own home, I tripped over the paradox and found the truth. Though all but my fear had become invisible to my husband – I found pieces of myself hidden in partially empty rooms that echoed with a call for love. As I became mindful in my home, I became mindful in my life. And as I became mindful in my life, I became increasingly more mindful in my home. The pages of a journal and the power of place mirrored the healing process of a woman emerging from the ashes – and offered an invaluable tool that I continue to use today.
Enlisting the power of place and the power of writing can assist us through a difficult transition or loss regardless of what life tosses our way. The dialogs within our space can clue us in to the dialogs within ourselves – if we let them. Inspired communication comes in many forms and allows awareness to surface in our lives. An awareness that supports personal transformation and healing. Our dialogs are not limited by circumstance or person. Our ability to communicate with the Truth is not attached to what we use only that we be willing to open. God does not limit, we do. When we become accountable to our fears, beliefs, judgments or opinions the universe becomes conversant.
Well into this process of dialoging I wrote,
“… I find myself cleaning up the entrance to my little bungalow. Planting impatiens on either side of the old brick steps, spreading fresh bales of pine straw … pruning the bushes along the walkway, and obsessing on finding the perfect purple to paint my screen door. As if to say, ‘Hey world, look at me emerging from the ashes!’ … I feel the shift is making its way to consciousness and the physical realm. Thus the quest for my perfectly expressive door!”
When met with disappointment and loss what do we do to emerge from the ashes like the phoenix? We can make a place for it to happen – in our hearts, in our homes, in our writings, in our relationships. We shape our dwellings within and without – and thus we shape ourselves; make your place and you will see.
Excerpts ©2006 from Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad
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