October 4, 2019

Hearing the voice of the house

Our homes, the structures in which we build our sanctuaries, have a spirit to them. Stepping inside an ancient European cathedral or walking by an abandoned building, you can feel it. It’s more than how it looks. It’s a deep knowing within us.

In the former case, perhaps it’s the faint remnant of energy left from centuries of prayers, weddings, and funerals. In the latter perhaps it’s the prolonged absence of that same human energy.

What the house wants

The dwelling, having been created to shelter and protect us, longs to fulfill its purpose to the utmost. The house longs to partake in the life of the living beings charged to its care.

In order for that communion to take place, an open and loving dialog must begin between our own hearts and the structures in which we live and work. To do so is to enliven our space with love.

The noticing

Every relationship begins with noticing, just as this one does. We notice where the sun sends a shaft of light at a certain time of the day, and where people are naturally drawn to gather for a meal or a conversation.

More subtly, we notice the fine shades of emotion that shift from room to room, and make note of what the house is trying to tell us. Our structures speak to us through our emotions and our intuition.

Being open

We must be open to the entire range of these emotions. My son has moved on to college, and his bedroom for months presented me with a sweet longing for the time when the room was boisterously alive with music, books, and friends. or quietly sheltering two dogs and a boy asleep on the bed.

It is not only our own hearts that hold feelings such as this. The house itself bears witness to the closing of these chapters, and seeks to fulfill its purpose.

When the time was right, perhaps it was my house that suggested to me how perfect a little library would be in that room, with shelves for all of my favorite volumes.

Your turn

In noticing the quirkiness of the layout, the firmness of the foundations, the bit of broken siding, or a bit of peeling paint, we celebrate the strengths of our dwelling as well as attending to its cuts and bruises.

This is how we begin to love our house not as an abstract concept, but rather as a being, which it truly is.

I want to encourage you to commune with your space, so here’s a list of next actions to help you do that:

  1. When you are in a balanced frame of heart and mind, mindfully visit each room of your house. Notice the emotions that arise as you are in each space — both positive and negative.
  2. Spend time noticing to any “cuts and bruises” your dwelling may be bringing to your attention. For example, I have a water stain on one ceiling left over from the last hurricane, and a badly rattling bathroom fan.
  3. Make a plan to address those issues. This is how you show your love for the house. Even if you cannot act on it right away, put a plan together.
  4. Spend some quiet time meditating on the rooms that need a change of energy. Be open to ideas coming to you that might suggest how to do that.

Remember that the house wants to fulfill its purpose, always. To shelter, protect, and partake in the life that happens around and within its walls. To commune with the house, to open that heartfelt communication, is what it means to create sanctuary.

Going deeper

If you’d like to go deeper in what it means to create sanctuary, we are creating the second edition of Seven Days to Sanctuary, my acclaimed course on creating sanctuary in our homes and in our lives.

For special early-bird access and pricing, add your name to the list.

With gratitude,


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