Friday, 28 May 2010

I was watching Grand Designs Revisited last night (oh, how I love thee, Grand Designs :)  There was a man who lived and worked in the forest.  He cared for the trees, resold branches and charcoal.  For the past 10 years he had lived rough, under a tarp, or in a leaky caravan.  And now he was building himself a house in the forest.

This man enlisted the help of many volunteers to craft something simple.  Everything to build it was taken from the forest surrounding.  The A-frame was joisted up by hand and rope, with not one large piece of earthmoving equipment in sight.  It was all very hands-on and quite inspiring to me, in many ways.  (Although that's not to say that he was an architectural technophobe:  the clay to smooth on the inside of his walls was taken from the creek at the bottom of his land by a big Tonka vehicle;  the wood for the frame, the walls, the roof and floors was chainsawed down and the floors, though hammered in by hand, were planed and had the nail holes put into them by a drill so as to prevent splitting).

What emerged after seven or so months was something that closely resembled my dream house.  Totally simple, and very beautiful, the antithesis to a McMansion.

The insulation between the outside walls and the inside plasterwork was barley straw bales and pulped up newspaper and phone books.  Something has been resonating in me ever since about those bales.   It's got me wondering (and maybe even contemplating a visit to the paintbox to see what, if anything, my cave spaces think of this) - what is the best process for a sensitive human soul to fortify their walls?

I want the answers to that to all come at once, and to come for good.  A pill to take once, and everything is fixed.  A McMansion solution.  Move your stuff in after the builders have left the site.  The alternative is frustrating, and yet much more inspiring.  The alternative is walking into the answers as they are required. The second way takes a lifetime, the crafting by hand of walls, of roof, of floorboards, of your own habitation.

The fortifying answers come, over months and years, as I make space, make myself quiet, carve it out.  The next step to take.  Or no step to take at all.  The wisdom of my inner self astounds me.  It goes so deep.  I have discarded so much of Christianity (it seems) that sometimes all is left are some choice life-reverberation words of Jesus (sometimes I think the Bible could simply contain a couple of verses - the kingdom of God is within you, love your enemies - and we have our work cut out for us our entire lives without the need for all the other sideline stuff, all those stupid verses of Paul forbidding women to teach, etc etc.

And yet something tells me that doctrine is like a McMansion.  We want prefab.  But Christianity as doctrine has about as much soul as the two-storey monstrosity I walked past on Duke Street last night.  All straight, cold lines, and little warmth.

I seem to have come upon an inability and antipathy to read anything these days which talks about a male God written by a white male.  It's just where I'm at right now, dealing with the next layer of rage.  But there is little space for me there.  There never has been.  And yet what remains underneath all of that is still the very small voice within. It runs so next to and entwined within my Self that I can barely tell the two apart.  Maybe I'm deluding myself and there is no God speaking there.  But whatever it is, it is my experience, and it is part of the fortification I continue to plug my walls with.


  1. watched it too. Was fantastic. If only we could all be charcoal manufacturers and get special dispensations for planning permits to live in the forest:)

  2. You're at a very good place, Sue, and the rage will fade in due time. Your 'summary of the Bible' is very desirable. The only thing is, our only enemy is ourselves - our totally deluded ideas of who we really are in relation to 'everything else'. But now I'm getting into Zen stuff;)

  3. Google ate my comment the first time, so apologies if you get this twice.

    You rock sister, and I am so all over these thoughts. That Christianity is ready-made and requires nothing of us than to move in. That it's hard enough in this life to learn to live with kindness, who can follow all the other rules? That still small voice inside...

    I can't negate Jesus, lord knows I've tried...but he is the source of life and light and love, not the supreme dictator of all thou shall not do!

  4. Susie-Q, you've just given me the first IWIWT moment for the year ( I wish I'd written that!)

    being a Grand Designs fan, you had me hooked from the first sentence, then you reeled me in with the transpersonal processing of insulation for the soul, and as for the patriarchal xian thing . . . who-eee, my rage resurfaced this month after a very confronting experience

    do get the paintbox out, I'm heading over to the studio later this arvo, so we could have a virtual painting party together

    paintball anyone . . .


  5. Urbanmonk - I agree, I think charcoal manufacturing is the way around the councils. ;) Could you imagine planning permission being allowed here? In this country, we all have to be AV Jennings or nothing at all. With the current housing crisis, this HAS to change, mereckons.

    MysticBrit - oh, keep talkin' bro. I am in fulsome agreement. And I think those two things - the enemy without and the enemy within - are inextricably linked, the negative energy of the latter fueling the former. May we all become more Zenlike in this way :)

    Erin - I agree, I can't let go of Jesus either. There is something there, for me at least, something sorta otherwordly and totally radical. But all the other stuff can go rot :)

    Kent - thankest thou, sir. Thou, also, dost rock.

    Kel - thanks for making my day :) I was considering deleting this post - felt all over the place - and you're IWIWTing it? Sheesh, what do I know? :) I hope your rage has been dispelled and quelled. I totally understand that deal.

    I didn't get the paintbox out. Ooops. Have fallen somewhat off the creativity bandwagon while I try and fit my new, improved but busier life into itself. Oh, how annoyed I am that I am letting things slide. Having said that, I'm very slowly writing another short story, so not all is lost. I think I shall have to come over for a long-overdue visit to XFacta for some creative inspiration :)

  6. PS: Can't believe it's taken me a week to respond to these comments again. Susie is a bit naughty at the moment in this regard :)


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