Misty fog hangs over a small river with grassy banks on either side and a tree in the left foreground

2022 Grateful 8: A home inside myself

I have friends who are struggling. Health issues. Financial issues. Relationship issues. I’m struggling to make sense of the world we’re living in. I tell myself not to read the news. not to listen to what’s being said, not to watch what’s going on. I want to step off the merry-go-round and take a deep breath.


Many moons ago, I was on a chair lift coming down from Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps. The lift stopped. As it was wont to do. But I didn’t know this. I felt as if the world had stood still. From that great height, I watched life go on below me, detached, distanced. It was so quiet. So still. I was so present.

It was the first time in my life that I was truly present. In the moment. Not thinking about something else or worrying about someone else. Or even about me. Just there. Right there. And it was glorious.

I’ve worked with limited success at repeating this. I’m a massive fan of Antony de Mello and a regular reader of Mark Hofreiter’s blog of his writings. Yet I struggle with being present. With focusing on the now.

Since before Covid, we’ve been trying to renovate an old house in the village. We had great plans. Great ideas. A retreat centre. A workshop centre. A small theatre. An antique shop. A pop-up restaurant. Perhaps a recording studio. And then Covid came with inflation snipping at its heels.

Stuck at home, people realised how uncomfortable their homes were and decided to renovate, spending all the money they were saving by not commuting, not eating out, not indulging in fancy coffees and after-work drinks. Others decided they wanted a garden and headed to the villages in search of cheap deals, basic houses that could be revamped into something new. It was all about the land. The garden. The space. The end result? Tradesmen had their pick of jobs, often popping between two and three different sites at a time.

When one guy reappeared after a six-week absence he told me he’d gone to the other guy because I didn’t threaten him with a knife – I was too nice. Texts ignored. Phones not answered. Emails unread. Nothing. And then they came back as if they’d only been here yesterday.

Don’t get me started on the finishing and the inability to see a straight line. Or think with anything approaching common sense. But hey. It’s now half-finished. One room is completely done. And after the gutters leaked and ruined the ceiling, redone.

Wrecked room in an old house with an old cooker to the left
Image of a room with white walls left and right and an ochre ceiling and backwall. A five lamp chandelier is lit. A brown built-in bookcase takes up the whole back wall. Inset is a brown chippendale leather couch. On the wall over the couch are three abstract oil paintings. On each wall are two digital painting in white frames.
Panoramic photo – pull the walls in and you have it …

It’ll be a long time before we’re open to the public if indeed we open at all. With prices skyrocketing, only crumbs remain of the original budget. Thoroughly disillusioned, I’m now leaning away from workshops and more towards retreats. Silence. Refuge. Sanctuary.

I might rediscover the enthusiasm I once had, but in the meantime, we’re moving a bed into what was to be the main training/conference room figuring that with zoned underfloor heating and triple-glazed windows, we might have some chance of weathering the highest-in-Europe energy prices this winter. Heating our own house would simply cost too much.

During the week, I came across a poem that spoke to where I’m at. To what I’m doing. Or what I’m trying to do.

The most important thing

I am making a home inside myself.
A shelter of kindness where everything is forgiven, everything allowed
—a quiet patch of sunlight to stretch out without hurry,
where all that has been banished
and buried is welcomed, spoken, listened to
A fiercely friendly place I can claim as my very own.
I am throwing arms open
to the whole of myself—especially the fearful,
fault-finding, falling apart, unfinished parts, knowing
every seed and weed, every drop of rain, has made the soil richer.
I will light a candle, pour a hot cup of tea, gather
around the warmth of my own blazing fire. I will howl
if I want to, knowing this flame can burn through
any perceived problem, any prescribed perfectionism,
any lying limitation, every heavy thing.
I am making a home inside myself
where grace blooms in grand and glorious
abundance, a shelter of kindness that grows
all the truest things.
I whisper hallelujah to the friendly sky.
Watch now as I burst into blossom.
There’s an Irish thing that says your first night sleeping in a new house should be  Friday night. All going well, if the lads keep showing up this week, the driveway will be done, and we can move that bed in.
Am grateful for small mercies.

3 Responses

  1. I always tell my clients that their project will experience ups and downs……..they all do. I tell them to enjoy the ups, the downs will come soon enough. It may take a long time but what you have been able to do there is something that the majority of people never get the chance to experience…….ask yourself why you have been given that chance.
    Good luck.

  2. Great blogpost! You’re refining your vision for the future with all three spaces. Inner space is your “bonus room.” I’m hoping there’ll be an end to war and return to more normal prices soon.

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