Hearth and Home

“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Greek goddess, Hestia, whose name translates to “hearth,” was the symbol for home for the ancient Greeks. Her understated and underappreciated role in the Greek pantheon was to tend to the hearth, keeping the fire stoked and aflame so it was ceaselessly ready for the Gods to warm themselves and convene around. This role was considered vital to life, as the hearth was a central meeting place for the ancient Greeks. The hearth was the link that bound them despite any drama that burgeoned in the community. It kept them warm. It connected them. It was the place where they cooked their food and ate. In fact, Hestia was not in many Greek myths because she was always in the background, devotedly tending to the fire, yet her commitment to keeping the fire lit was one of the most important roles of the Gods. As such, she came to symbolize home, the place where people come together, to warm themselves, converse, and nourish each other.

Psychic home is that place where the emotional and psychological parts of ourselves—our internal objects— connect around needs: for warmth, nourishment, relationship, and most importantly, love. It is a process, like character, that is built. It represents the linking function in our psyches, usually symbolized in Object Relations as the mother nursing the baby. This symbol connects to Hestia and her hearth, representing a place of warmth, connection, nourishment, and love. Likewise, COR serves as a home, an internal and external place that symbolizes the coming together of psychic parts, people from different perspectives, energies, and backgrounds. It is a place where people come to be warmed, connected, and nourished as mental health practitioners and human beings. It is a place where Hestia devotedly tends to the fire, creating warmth, connection, nourishment, and ultimately, love.

For this reason, COR serves as a symbol for the creation of a psychic home, continuously reconstructed, reimagined, remodeled. COR is a place where the countless psyches of those who have been involved over the years still live and work. When I walk into the COR office for a Saturday Dialogue or sign onto a webinar, my internal objects awaken and dialogue with one another. Time fades away as the timeless unconscious awakens the multitudes of faces and voices who have been a part of COR over the years. I hear Austin Case dialoguing with Melanie Klein, and Mel Knight dialoguing with T.S. Elliott. I hear Ann Glasser dialoguing with Harold Searles, and Pam Van Dalfsen dialoguing with Donald Winnicott. I hear Alex Gomez talking with Adam Phillips about the experience of missing out. I hear Josh Sandoz talking with Frank Lowe about thinking spaces, and Enika Cocoli Bowen having a theoretical discussion with Wilfred Bion and Spock. I hear Janey Ganta talking with Jorge de la O, and Franco Scabbiolo dialoguing with Donald Meltzer about their internal ateliers. I see Tom Saunders observing babies. I see Jeff Grant laughing with Avedis Panajian about the internal objects of the Lakers, and Rikki Ricard acting out the drama of psychotherapy. I feel O’Donnell Day’s welcoming energy, and Seth Aichele’s boundless curiosity. I feel Terry Hanson’s desire to move into the most difficult of feelings. These voices, faces, and feelings, are all alive in the COR of my internal world. They are active and ever moving forward into the unknown places of psyche.

The hearth, or spirit, of COR is found in the hearts of all those who have ever taken part in a COR event. Though the physical location of the office has changed over the years, members of COR live in the dream of COR, which transcends time and space. Whether in Mel Knight’s living room, the Capital Hill location, the Bell Town location, the new Madison Valley location, or spread throughout the world via the internet, the object of COR resides in the experiences and relationships of those who have ever participated in our community. Likewise, it lives in the hearts and minds of the patients who have secondarily benefited from the COR community. The flame of COR is stoked by the passions of the people who have given their energy and psyches to the countless COR events, classes, webinars, and Saturday Dialogues over its twenty-seven-year life, and it will continue to be stoked by the passions of those involved now and those to come in the future. It is the love of this deep work, and the love of our colleagues with whom we are connected by this deep work, that nourishes COR and makes it a home.

COR, like any concrete or psychic home, is always a work in progress. It is a living, evolving entity that grows and deteriorates, transforms, constructs, reconstructs, and remodels. It is imagined and reimagined. It is a psychic achievement that cannot be taken for granted. I feel proud and grateful to be part of such a professional and personal home, and to know that it lives, along with all of its members, in my timeless psychic life. I feel lucky that COR is a powerful object in my internal world as a place that connects, warms, nurtures, and nourishes. Even now as I write this letter, I hear Janelle Chandler’s voice at a recent board meeting, saying “People have the option to go to many different organizations to learn Object Relations. That we teach Object Relations does not make COR special. It is the people involved at COR, the feeling of our community, that is what makes it special.”

Every member has a different COR in their mind and heart. For some, it is sanctuary; for others, a training facility; for others, a place of rigorous theory; and for others, a place of powerful emotional experience. French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote, “The house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” What dreams does your COR inhabit? What COR do your dreams inhabit? As COR enters this new chapter in its life, I want to invite you all to come check out the new office, the new physical home it now inhabits in Madison Valley. But more importantly, I want to invite you to get to know the people who make up COR. They are the true home of COR. I want to invite you to be curious about the COR in your hearts and minds. What does it look like? Who do you hear there? What faces do you see there? For me, COR is a home, a hearth, that connects us all in the passion of this deep and important work of exploring the psyche and what it means to be a human being. American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote, “A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.” I cannot think of a more true and steadfast material to build a home with than love and dreams. Welcome home. Let’s continue to build together.

Categories: President's LetterPublished On: July 14th, 2021Tags: