At my recent workshop entitled Thresholds, I asked my writers to tell about their places (real or imagined) to look up, around, forward, and inward—a place to honor their work as an altar for their writing. I suggested it could be about a time to pause, to separate, or build a bridge. Here’s a sampling:
“Here’s the invitation to a life full of riches. All that is required is to walk through the door, turn on the lights, put the kettle on for tea, throw open the curtains, and make a place at the table; to claim a space, to make oneself welcome. And in turn, leave the door open for the Muse, inviting her to make herself at home.”
“The lushness of the drapes forms a cocoon, a private place…”
“An altar alters our mind, our heart, our perception of what’s real and what’s possible, folding our sight and spirit into its inner chamber that yawns ever wider as we seek a glimpse of its mysteries, its occupants, its owner.”
For all these writers, the place is a holy one, a thoughtful and inspirational place, sometimes private, but also one of action, choice and possibilities. In AWA workshops, the altar becomes the “On Chairs,” a poem or writing tidbit offered for reflection. Natalie Goldberg, in The True Secrets of Writing, describes the creation of an altar for her writing students. Her aim with a favorite poem or a poet’s photograph is to instill an intensity and build a relationship with practice and craft.
On my desk, which faces the back garden, greening now with coming Spring, sits a rustic pitcher filled with woodland flowers, a circular bowl with found objects from the sea, some inspirational book friends, and other writing tools. I can come and walk about, and be restored, look up, around, forward, and inward.
An Invitation: Create your altar for writing, thinking, dreaming. You could make many places to pause, create, contemplate, refresh. Or you could simply go on a familiar walk.