The Inner Landscape

Particle Space

Atomic particles of the  structure…and the zero energy photon sea they are immersed in are a gestaltic whole. If 
one structure doesn’t exist, neither does.
(New Physics 2000)

Years ago I was seeing a pastoral counselor who had been reading about the New Physics. My mother had died and there was a small legacy and my then husband and I were looking for a house. I remember the counselor saying, "You seem to be thriving in the neighborhood where you live now. You’ve come through your loss last year very well. You ought to consider that when you are looking for a new house and see if you can find something close by. You seem to be in your particle space."

He had this idea that like particles, people have spaces in which they will experience a gestaltic whole.

I took him very seriously, and we did find a house a few short blocks from the apartment we had been renting for almost four years. Sadly, it would be the house where the marriage ended and I entered the abyss of a life-threatening postpartum depression.

That house was sold as part of my divorce settlement, mostly because my dear father wanted to see me in a new place and encouraged me to move. We rented for a year, during which he died. Then the family trustee told me I needed to look for a house again!

Still pretty black-and-blue, I called the real estate agent who had sold my home the year before. He was a great help since he already knew us. (He is the dad of The Princess’ friend Smartypants.) One day he called me and said, "I have a house to show you. Can you come at 11:45?" I said that would be complicated due to picking up one child at 11:30 and another at 12:15. Could we see it the next day. No, he said, they were only going to show it for about an hour. It was just one of those funny situations where a house that has been pretty much trashed is being sold in a hurry for less than the market value in the neighborhood, in the hopes of encouraging a bidding war. It sat on a desirable dead end street with an esplanade of maples, a really lovely setting not far from our previous home and near most of the usual destinations in our lives. The realtor explained we had to bid over the asking price, and it was anyone’s guess whether others would bid higher than we decided to bid. Working with the long-distance trustee and Dad of Smartypants and his assistant, we came up with a number and got the house.

It was a risky venture for a person who was depressed, because it was decidedly not in move-in condition. The closing had to be delayed because the previous owner had not finished moving out! It was chaos.

But once the house was empty, I got into it with contractors and painters and carpenters and began figuring out what to do with it. We had about two months to get it ready for my family. And the first decision I made was not to hire a general contractor but to hire and supervise the sub-contractors myself. It was a stewardship choice that I saw as being about money, but as it turned out it was a stewardship commitment to and of myself.

Yesterday I was talking with a group of colleagues about how we make career moves, trying to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit but also not wanting to disregard what feels best for our families. I told a story about sitting on our front walk and leaning back to look up at the beautiful maple tree that shades our yard. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon, the kind of day you think summer will always be like in Maine. The sun was winking through the leaves. It was hard to think about ever living anywhere else, I said, other than Esplanade Street.

I must have said more than one rhapsodic thing about Esplanade Street, because a colleague questioned me, "What is it that matters so much to you about Esplanade Street?"

Now I was winking back tears as I answered, "It’s the place where I came back to life."

We’ve been in this house for eight good years. I think my old counselor might say I had found my particle space. A year or two after I moved here, cleaning out a box still packed from one of the two moves we made in less than a year, I found a list I had written in the summer of 1996. A friend asked me, what is the home you envision for yourself? It was long before I ever saw this house or thought of living on this street, but the list I had made matched my new house almost exactly. I had manifested my dream of home.

It is in this home that I regained my equilibrium and began to feel well again.It is in this home that I decided to return to seminary and later came to know myself as a writer as well as pastor and preacher. It is in this home that I found love again, and to our collective surprise a new idea of what family could be.

But the truth is, my particle space or yours can’t be about a house or a street or a school or a neighborhood. We find our particle space on the inside, not the outside. Without that gestaltic whole in our souls, we find no peace or rest, wherever we may reside.

19 thoughts on “Particle Space”

  1. Actually, I disagree slightly with your idea that particle space is solely an interior matter. I would say that particle space is the right relationship between interior and environment. In other words, if you’re in the wrong environment for who you are, you will not be in your particle space.
    We know this from experience, and we, too, are in a move to restore our particle space.

  2. What similar paths we have taken in this story. Though I cannot articulate it as beautifully as you have, in my heart I feel much the same way.
    You continue to awe me with your rich writing that feeds the soul.

  3. So beautiful Songbird and timely for me. I just came across a prayer I wrote before we moved to Seattle three years ago and discovered that my life is pretty much just as I had dreamed. I tend to agree with PoorMadPeter though that there is a congruence that can happen when we find a wholeness both within and without that nurtures us in ways we hadn’t imagined. I know Seattle called to me like no other place had. It took me 33 years to discover an outer landscape that reflected my interior one and makes my soul sing.
    Blessings, Christine

  4. Oh, Songbird. Another lovely post and timely for me as well.
    You know I’m moving in about a month and that house and neighborhood are SO not my “particle space.” But the process I’m going through with my little family may be moving me toward it…

  5. I don’t mean to say that place has no importance, my friends, but I do mean to say that inner wholeness matters, and sometimes one needs to matter more than the other.

  6. I have moved quite a bit. I have great memories of the places where I have lived, but I have seen that the houses that meant the most to me, and felt most like home, were in places where I was in a good space on the inside, and had a good network of friends. As I read your post, I could relate to a lot of it. While I haven’t gone through the same things, many of the emotions involved were the same. Thanks for sharing this!

  7. Home is my oasis, and a place I dearly love to be. The times we have moved have been transition times for us as well. We always were moving forward. Just a beautiful post Songbird. Thanks for sharing and blessings to you.

  8. I’ve lived in a lot of houses since leaving my great-grandparent’s home in Jane Austen’s Village and it’s true: wherever you go, there you are!
    But I love the idea of particle space. Places (and the people we share them with) shape us.

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