Since adolescence, I have been fascinated by the concept of houses as symbols of inner life. I remember reading about a memory device widely used in the 18th century. People trained themselves to remember long sequences of detailed information by constructing an imaginary house, and placing items, or symbols of items, they wanted to recall at strategic places–on the parlor mantle, for instance, or just inside the front door. When they wanted to retrieve the information, they simply went inside and walked through their internal house. I didn’t use the idea in this way, but it stuck with me, because it resonated so powerfully.
Next, I encountered St. Theresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle”. Again, the idea really sparked my imagination. I’m not recommending you rush out and buy this book, though it is still available, because a lot of it is pretty dark and grim. During that period of history, just about everybody tended to equate a relationship with God with suffering and trauma. (Don’t get me started on that. I could write a book on how sick, misguided and just plain wrong that attitude is, never mind a blog entry.) Suffice it to say, God is LOVE. At no point did He say to Himself, “I’ll just whip up a batch of people and toss them into the cosmic stewpot. They haven’t a clue what they’re supposed to do, so I’ll just let them guess, and punish them severely when they’re wrong.”
Finally, there was “A House with Four Rooms”, written by English novelist, Rumer Godden. That one, I would recommend. It’s very helpful in getting a perspective on our lives–the rooms are, just in case you’re curious: Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual. There can be a great deal of value in consciously exploring each area of our lives and making sense of it, and this book is clear, simple, and engaging.
All I really had to show for these concepts was an interest and a deep resonance–until this morning, when I was journaling. Then, suddenly, it crystalized. I understood why I was so taken with the analogy, and I mean to explore it right here on the blog. I’d be delighted if you’d join me on the journey.
Since it’s a fairly big subject, we’re going to tackle it room by room for a while.
Tune in tomorrow for Room 1.
The Waiting Room.
Are you intrigued?
Do you have the courage to go on the quest?
Of course you do.