Like Home

Hello Marsh House. Located at Aldermarsh Retreat Center. Just off Maxwelton Road. On South Whidbey Island. It’s good to see you again, and spend a week with you.

It’s no secret that place matters when convening in conversations that matter. I’m in one version of that convening. And in one version of “place matters.” This week it is The Circle Way Practicum. There are 14 of us gathered. I’m cohosting with Amanda Fenton and guest co-host, Chantilly Mers Pickett. It’s time for the 14 of us to lean into learning about circle as method, as practice, and as way of being. I’m glad for that. Something feels like home.

It’s now been…, hmmm…, probably near 20 times that I’ve hosted and participated at events in Marsh House. And in this context of The Circle Way, this has been home teaching space for Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin for over 20 years now. There are whispers from the floor, from the open sky light, from the seats where many bodies have huddled together to share story, questions, tears, and cheers.

There is a certain anticipation that I feel in beginning at Aldermarsh. This feeling of home, and that perhaps, when it comes down the to very simple of it all, that we are accompanying each other home. Home within. Home among.

Here we go.


Honey and Lemons


Ahh, I love these words written by friend and colleague Quanita Roberson. I relate to life calling, with sweet and sour, with mystery and clarity. As she says, the driving mad has something to do with the clarity of home.


Where did you come from
How did you find me
This life full of honey and lemons
Rest on my lips with the taste of possibility
Beckoning me to be still, to trust, to surrender to something greater than myself
Driving me mad and calling me home

From Drip to Torrent


The rain is falling in Seattle. It is what happens in September. I can feel summer letting go, giving way. What has been glorious, sunny days, are now in their inevitable yielding. Cloudy, and sopped in.

Thornton Creek, near my Seattle home, sometimes a mere drip in the hot summer, quickly turns to a raging torrent, making it’s way under the bridge in the back yard. The creek is only three feet wide where I am. However it can go from an inch deep trickle to four foot deep “be careful” in an instant, catching volume from upstream tributaries.

I don’t know how long the season of rain will last, but it is that, a season. Not just a sporadic shower on a day.

I’m told that when the rain comes, the salmon can begin to smell home. It is one of the things that stimulates their epic journey from ocean, to lake, to river, to stream —  back to where they were spawned. Amazing, right. I’m also told that the salmon have made their way near this part of Thornton. Restoration efforts have been on-going — they might even go beneath the bridge some day. Thornton makes it’s way to Meadowbrook Park and eventually to Lake Washington. Then Lake Union. Then the Pacific. It’s a journey.

I loved hearing the creek this morning. And feeling wonder in it, and thinking about the salmon that might just find their way here.


Bells Blooming

I just arrived to Utah, home, for a stretch of what will be 18 days. Greeted by these flowers growing in my garden, that had not blossomed when I last left, and tomato cages ready to be put to work. This period of time “at home” is noticeable to me for its duration. Eighteen days feels spacious and huge. Enough time to do laundry more than once! Enough time to spend an evening with friends.

I’m enough of a geek to want to remember the last time I was home for this kind of stretch. It was December 2015. I don’t know about the time before that. That was likely last summer.

I’ve written about home before. For example, in 2012, this reflection after being in my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. And in 2015, this post on the geography of home. Today, however, my reflections are about this simple narrative.

For there to be home, there must be intimacy.
For there to be intimacy, there must be friendship.
For there to be friendship, there must be freedom.

I know, these are big categories of words — what does one mean by intimacy, friendship, and freedom, right?

The intimacy I’m speaking of here is a softness in the belly. To be willing or able to share with vulnerability. “I feel this way — wow, you feel that way; tell me more!” To feel a kind of trust that doesn’t arise from warnings or subtle fear-born threats. The intimacy here is a welcome to let go, and to be in quiet together.

For friendship, I’m talking about people that I laugh with. The friends I enjoy the most are the ones that I can be completely serious with, and, completely silly with. I enjoy them because there is a shared ability to turn quickly from one to the other, as needed. It’s as though somehow knowing that there is ability to be in the full range together makes enjoyment of one part that much more vibrant. Sometimes my friends and I are changing the world. Sometimes, we are just laughing at our follies.

The freedom that I’m speaking here is freedom to choose. Not into a manipulated or coerced choice that someone else is lobbying for (unless it is done with great silliness and humor of course). But real choice. Not demands that masquerade as choices. Real choices in which the the very act of choosing, the act of enacting a life through choices both explicitly and implicitly, are respected. Maybe not fully agreed to, but definitely respected.

I love the home that is a good bowl of a favorite soup. I love the home that is seeing the green beans that I planted ten days ago peaking through the ground. I love the home that is my dog laying in the doorway of whatever room I find myself sitting in. I love the home that knows me, welcomes me, that resonates with familiarity like the way my body fits in my bed.


And maybe, just maybe, home is also the place where we are quite wholly and naturally friends, laughing and exploring and even crying a bit over the choices we make and how we are encountering our freedom to be.