I have a Room of Requirement You know the one like at Hogwarts It becomes whatever I require, whatever I need most in the moment Defense Against the Dark Arts training? Check Infinite storage? I admit that I have, at times, treated it as such A loo? Just the Hogwarts version, not mine A Christmas gift wrapping room The room I had my heart attack in (while wrapping Christmas presents) The room that holds my fears of death of pain of fear itself The room where I hosted a smudging party (Which may have been a case of cultural appropriation We burned sage and danced around to Groove is in the Heart) I painted the walls Secret Society blue (The guy at Home Depot clearly got a kick out of announcing that my Secret Society was ready after he was finished mixing the paint) Then it was my pandemic refuge my cozy hiding spot my office my art studio Most recently, for just shy of four months, it was my mom’s room (It was supposed to be six months) As of yesterday, it is my room again My mom has moved out but she left some of her stuff behind Her gigantic television Her coffee pot Her Bibles and her copy of Steven King’s The Stand The room doesn’t quite feel like mine yet But it’s no longer my mom’s room either And it no longer holds my fears (did I defeat them or bury them?) It will NEVER AGAIN be a Christmas gift wrapping room But it also won’t return to its prior pandemic refuge (though almost two years later, the pandemic still rages) I am sitting here, in my Room of Requirement On the new daybed that looks like the biggest couch you will ever see (I got it for my mom to sleep on when it was her room) I sit here but I don’t know what I now require Perhaps it is enough to sit
I am taking Spiritual Writing through Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. This was my first assignment. I wrote it this morning in a writer’s group I belong to. Today was my first time attending the group, but I can already tell I am going to love it. We get together every other week on Zoom and just…write. The leader will sometimes give a prompt – today we all did this assignment together – but sometimes we just bring our own writing, or freewrite. We don’t even share if we don’t want to. Mainly the group is for accountability. During this scheduled time, I SHALL WRITE. And I won’t be doing it alone.
Here is the assignment, if you want to play along at home:
1. Pick an object—like a still life in painting—and describe it in detail, using it as a platform to explore some sort of “what,” or larger spiritual question, you have. Since part of writing is being open to inspiration, freewrite on this object for twenty minutes, nonstop. Push the pen—no one will see this but you. Focus on being concrete.
2. Then, read over what you wrote, and ask yourself these questions:
• What story am I telling? Is there a theme or pattern to what I’ve written, a specific mood or direction or view?
• What thoughts did I hear, yet not write down?
• What ideas might this trigger for a longer writing piece?
• What did it feel like in my body to write this (five senses)?
3. Then, pick out parts of your freewrite that could work together for some larger spiritual question, and shape them into no more than 500 words of writing. The goal is to use specificity—and the senses—to begin to explore or convey something more honest and abstract.