Clean Enough to Kneel at the Shrine

Post Date: June 19th, 2012

Clean. The office is clean.

Office is such the wrong word. I prefer space, study, or retreat. But whatever you call it, it’s relieved of its dust, cat hair, and Lyn hair. The floor is swept, the desk is de-cluttered, and the shrines have been dusted.

St. Catherine of Siena by Michael

That’s right, shrines. A writer’s space is a spiritual one and so it must be filled with good energy. Over the years, talismans of love and beauty collect around my writing space–gifts from others and gifts to myself, forming a tiny Stonehenge of power. They’re what I see daily as I write.

There is the

  • elephants shrine
  • and the saints shrine
  • and the cats shrine
  • and the stones shrine
  • and The Wizard of Oz shrine.
Five corners of good energy. They’re cheering me on now, though I’m making more notes than pages–notes for when I pick up the manuscript again for more revision. As I wait for my agent’s review of my latest pass at my novel, I’ve got Zen felines giving me patient looks; Ganesh proffering his tusk, that great sacrifice for art; Pope John Paul holding up a hand in blessing; and the Emerald City glimmering with hope. A huge gray rock perches against my desk top with one word carved in its surface: BALANCE. 
Is it any wonder that I with all my sacred relics wrote one novel called ST. MICHAEL, PRAY FOR US or another called OUR WHITE LADY OF THE GENTLE SINS? I’m all about the blessed tokens–holy wafers, smoking censers, purple vestments–that make a sacred story come to life. 
We don’t write to make a buck or make a name for ourselves. We think we do, but at the end of the day we seek the eternal. Ask any writer who wants elusive fame: all she really wants is life after death, the hope that others read her words and do this in memory of her. 
So if my office is more full of meditation these days than productivity, good for me. At the very least, the way is clear for the next part of the pilgrimage; I’ll know soon what I’m about. I may not like the next fork in the road, the next twist with unforeseen consequence, but you can’t call yourself pilgrim if you hate taking the steps. For a moment there’s rest. I can see and I can breathe. 
Writing Prompts
  • Find a shrine in your house and spend some moments there. Write what comes to mind during and after your stay.
  • If you don’t have a shrine, begin one. Write a poem about something holy, and lay it there as one of your offerings.
  • How do you define spiritual when it comes to writing? How is writing a spiritual act?
  • What have you created lately? How is it a divine act?
  • How is writing spiritual and not religious? What makes writing religious?
  • Who are your favorite spiritual writers (remember, your definition of “spiritual”) and what do they teach you?
  • Write something with your eyes on the sky, on the trees, seeking wind, thinking about forever. Seek truth, not perfection. Write honest and open and see what emerges. 
  • Write something looking at a shrine. 

1 Comment

  1. Bob Mustin says:

    Such a good post! You tied your office, religious approach to writing, and your Wendy book together neatly. Bravo!