’Sign’ has many meanings, among them a mark or a signal. In this case, a literal sign on the wall marks and inward and spiritual change. These days, I am back living in the house where I grew up. When my family moved here in 1952, my father named the house ‘Serendipity’, which if you know about the three princes of Serendip is a happy name. Later, long after I left home to seek my fortune, the house was renamed ‘Mudfog Farm’, which on the one hand is a jocular Dickens reference, but on the other reflected my dad’s growing depression as he aged and lost faith in himself and humanity. (Now that I am aging myself I can see his point.)
Mudfog Farm it remained through the 15-year tenure of my friend Annie Wyman, and when she died, tragically, earlier this year, I re-inherited the house which was so many homes at once: mine from long ago, my parents’, Annie’s, and – well, really, no one’s. I have found it hard to fit in to the house that has been my spiritual home for five decades of a traveler’s life.
Cleaning out the house of the detritus of so many years, we came across a photo – no date, probably the 30’s or 40’s – that named this house as “The Anchorage”. That was when it was a boarding house for the ‘ice men’ in the winter and ‘summer people’ in the summer.
Well, Annie was our anchor, and it’s going back to being a boardinghouse for our teachers, so we decided to rename the house The Anchorage. My staff, knowing my confusion and need for a marker, gave me this beautiful sign for my birthday, and it’s taken until now to get it made and get it up.
At the ‘signing ceremony’ yesterday, such kind and encouraging words were said; I want to quote some of them:
“The myriad memories of our lives weave together, light and dark, from shining and burnished skeins, to become our innermost fabric.”
“May this be a place of peace, and rest, and inspiration, and grounding for all who enter, as they gaze out over the ever-changing sea.”
“Bless the place to inspire us with Grounding to root us in honesty and truth, Curiosity for what is new, Wisdom for our hearts and hands, Love to feed us and sustain us, and Laughter passing through us like the wind from the river”
“Renaming the farmhouse is a tribute to Annie but also a tribute to us all as a team. We have steadied the ship and moved it into uncharted waters and are now sailing swiftly. A year after the passing of Tom’s Mom Julia, we offer cheers to The Anchorage.”
“May the Anchorage benefit its inhabitants and all who pass through near or far.”
And a blessing from John O’Donohue:
“May all that is unforgiven in you be released. May all your fears yield their deepest tranquilities. May all that is un-lived in you blossom into a future graced with love”
Fall is always the beginning of the year for me, not sure why. Renaming the farm, having it come back to its 100-year-old roots, brings me back to my roots and renews my dedication to the dream that powered Annie and so many others who have supported Anatomy Trains over so many years.
Right now, however, in this year of loss, my from-the-heart gratitude goes out to all the team on the Anatomy Trains staff – Becky, Stephanie, Erin, Mel, Emily, Liza – and Lou, for herself and our friendship, which reaches back as far as my friendship with Annie, but also Lou represents all the teachers who represent our work in the world.
Our goal is a conscious community. There’s a lot to be conscious about these days, and no one gets it all, but the sentiments above are what I would like us to live up to. I now live, grounded and safe from all winds, in The Anchorage, and I welcome all my guests.
Understand, all you who look at us from the outside, that this is a team effort.