My Workspaces & Moments in the Garden



Workspaces and creativity go hand in hand.
I believe that is why writers are curious about how and where others write. In
some places, well-known authors have taken me to task for this or made me feel
badly about that desire. I’ve always been curious about writer’s workspaces and
own several books on the topic.  So
apparently, other writers and authors share my curiosity [and yours if you’re
reading this]. Those who act superior about such things probably act superior
about a lot of other things as well. We’ll leave them to themselves. But if
you’re like me, interested in other writers . . . Gather round. I’ve given this
some thought and would like to share my spaces and hear about yours too (that’s
an invitation to make this a dialog by commenting on the blog). I’d like those
of us with like interests to weigh in on this. Here’s why.

 

I believe in "moments in the
Garden" and in a "sense of place."

 

C. S. Lewis woke me to the "moments in
the Garden." He called it "Joy"–the "inconsolable
longing" in the human heart for "we know not what." Places and
scenes speak a language that you feel rather than hear if you’re willing
and sensitive. The things created, provoke something, a response in us best
described as sehnsucht, literally "intense longing." It feels
as though the flaming sword has been lowered and we get a glimpse into our
primordial home–the Garden of Eden or future New Earth. Many authors have
described sehnsucht. Sehnsucht is a fleeting stab of nostalgic
longing which as soon as you notice it and try to focus on it or analyze it, it
has melted away. It’s gone. I have felt this as I’ve crested a hill and seen
the valley spread out below. What a rush of desire, no sooner felt than gone.
Left in its place is an intense desire to experience it again, a desire to
chase it to its fount. Unfortunately, we can’t find it. It finds us.

 

In the paragraph below, H. P. Lovecraft,
rather than explaining it, attempts to actually create that feeling:

 

.
. . Some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and
gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging
murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and
stone, and of shadowed companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses
along the edges of thick forests; and then we know that we have looked back
through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours before we were
wise and unhappy.

 

–H. P. Lovecraft, Celephais,
as quoted in Lin Carter’s Imaginary Worlds, p. 11.

 

I believe it’s an aesthetic
illumination—beauty pointing to its Creator. Often these delightful stabs
increase in frequency and intensity depending upon "place."

 

All of us have felt a "sense of
place" at some point in our lives. The sense of place is where we most
experience the moments in the garden. We inherently sense something when we’re
in the place we belong. I experience this most in the mountains in Vermont and
in New Hampshire. I feel rooted, an ancient feeling like the old mossy stone
walls running throughout the woods and forests. This sense of place I also
experienced in England. Sometimes it’s pure joy, thus Lewis’s use of the term
"Joy." But it may on occasion manifest in a warm melancholy which is
not exactly a sadness because joy coexists with it. For me this develops into a
creative moment—thus my "moments in the Garden."

 

I experience moments in the Garden often in
two particular places–the forest beyond my second field, where I’ve set up a
screen tent for prayer and meditation; and, in two of my three workspaces
(which I call my cave & VT prayer closet; see photos on right). I have a second workspace, where
I research and write most of my non-fiction. I seldom experience sehnsucht
there, but in my "cave," often. What’s the difference? [coming in
part 2].

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