Every year I go to the beach with my family. We like going to more secluded beaches where we can relax without dozens of families packed on a thin strip of sand, loud music blasting from beachfront bars, and the smell of car exhaust overpowering the smell of sea salt. And every year, I pack a few notebooks and a pile of pencils, ready for the change of scenery to inspire me into writing something new. And every year, I get close to nothing written. I want to be inspired there. I want the vastness of the ocean to remind me of the vastness of God and make me feel insignificant. I want the grains of sand to make me think of time, eroding, or the little parts it takes to make a whole. I want the sea breeze to move me and the fresh air to revitalize me. But it just doesn’t happen. I can’t sit on the shore (or from my balcony) and write. There is a lot of writing potential at the beach, but it’s not my place of inspiration.
I figured that the reason might be that I’m a mountain girl. I never really considered myself that until I went to school and missed seeing the mountains every day. And when I was studying in England, I could look at the mountains and think how much they resembled home, but I had the emotion that “These aren’t my mountains.” So maybe the ocean doesn’t inspire me because I come from a long line of Appalachians. Therefore, I should find inspiration in the mountains, specifically, my mountains. But that hasn’t happened either. Granted, it’s much, much easier for me to write about the mountains because I’m fond of them, but I can’t go out hiking and compose on a mountain top any easier than I can at the shore. As someone who wants to write and who would love to write about the beauty of nature, it’s quite frustrating to see nature as beautiful but less than inspirational.
That’s when I started noticing where I do write. At church -- particularly during the choir singing and the offering because I do try to pay close attention to everything else in the service, but an occasional boring sermon provides additional writing time as well. Church activates something in me, where I scribble notes all over my bulletin and then spend Sunday afternoon sorting them out. In Haworth, I skipped walking the moors in favor of just sitting in the local church, and it proved to be the right choice for both personal insight and getting some writing done. While it still irks me that I find more comfort in a man-made building than nature, I have accepted it. The sacredness of the place affects me, especially if I think about all the people that have searched for and talked with God there. A church is like a three-dimensional love letter to God; while it is made for Him with love, it really says more about our feelings and interpretations of the relationship.