Out of 463 pages, one sentence, on page 181, captures my little corner.
In a room with a ceiling height of 66 inches, just enough to clear my height of 5’3”, there is a built-in L-shaped desk that is quite handy for spreading out—papers, books, or fabric projects. A large bulletin board, lined with colourful fabric supporting black and white peace signs, brightens the pale yellow wainscoted walls. A rod iron bookshelf, a 70’s era small cabinet, and the inner workings of our central vacuum system line the other walls. But the part that is captured in that one sentence is in the corner.
My sister and I found the retro rocking chair in a second-hand store. We sat in it and tried it out, both she and I recalling one of an almost identical style but with soft grey leather that sat in our living room for the years we were growing up. We used the ottoman, turned on its end, for the pulpit when we played church, arranging kitchen chairs in rows for the congregation of my sisters and me and an assortment of dolls and stuffed animals. We took turns giving announcements, caring for our ‘children,’ and my sister sang with spit on her eyes to evoke the emotion of a singer we’d observed. So, we brought the retro chair and the memories home to my little room.
Every morning and most afternoons, I sit in my chair.
In other houses where I’ve lived, it’s been other seats and other corners. The oversized red chair and ottoman that sat near the fireplace and looked out toward our big oak tree; the tiny basement room with no windows, lots of bookshelves, and a black chair with wheels and a shifting seat; and the twin bed DIY’ed as a daybed in the “prayer room” as my husband called it, where every morning I met the day before the sun was up. I have steadily shown up and at the time it may not have always seemed like much was happening. But something did and does happen here.
Michelle Obama, in her memoir on page 181, recalls how her husband carved out a similar space for himself in every place they’d lived or even vacationed that she called “the Hole.” Whether a corner or a whole room, the Hole seems to hold the same respite and promise as my corner chair in a room that is mostly my own lair. Michelle writes,
For him, the Hole is a kind of sacred high place, where insights are birthed and clarity comes to visit.
I’ve been working with a trusted friend whose expertise is leading me to do significant soul work. She asked me in our last conversation if I had a place where I can be; I imagined my own “hole” to notice and surrender, to see circumstances anew and rest. In my corner chair, I lay down the pretense, the worries, the “outside,” and internal physical senses that cloud my vision. I open to the presence and work of a loving spirit. For those moments, that old chair is a sacred place, where insights are birthed through the stillness. Clarity comes to visit, wonder unfolds, and gratitude abides.