Monday, September 8, 2008

Spirit's Place

By Mary Margret Daughtridge

I knew a fellow one time. A writer, he was. He was from South Carolina and his name was—I swear—Beauregard. Seriously.

Beau, whether or not he ever actually wrote, talked a lot about writing. Back in those days, writing was my guilty secret, so I did write, but never talked about it. People who could talk about it impressed me greatly.

If you asked Beau where he was from, he would say Columbia or Greenville or Beaufort—I don’t remember. “But,” he would add in a South Carolina accent thickened considerably by the beers he had consumed, "Ah considda Muunks’ Cawnah mah spurchal home." (I consider Monk's Corner my spiritual home.)

There, he said, flowed a never-ending fountain of inspiration, of ideas and words, paragraphs and plots, and when he was finally ready to write his novel, there he would go.

I didn’t have a spiritual home, that I knew of, and I wasn’t perfectly clear on how a spiritual home differed from any other kind. I was raised in a small eastern North Carolina town where we took the Bible seriously and the only spiritual home I’d ever considered up to that point was my home in Heaven where I would go to live with Jesus one day. He wasn’t talking about that.

Beau died not long after that conversation, still a very young man. He never wrote his novel.

But the notion that writers can, or could, or should, have a spiritual home in addition to a more mundane one stayed with me. When I brought my writing out of the closet (literally) the concept of spiritual home came back to me and, I realized, in the interim I had acquired one—exactly like the kind Beau meant.

My spiritual home is Topsail Island, a twenty mile long, half-mile wide barrier island on North Carolina’s coast. One barrier island is pretty much like another. There’s really nothing special about Topsail except that it’s never been commercialized like some of the other beaches. There’s no hotel, no night life. There’s nothing much at all except miles and miles of beach cottages, sand dunes and beach. I can go there and write like nowhere else on earth.

The ever-present breeze provides lift for my imagination’s wings, and the surf pounds a cadence for my words. I wake up before dawn, make a pot of coffee, and with my laptop on my knees, I write while the colors of day appear. Every time I raise my eyes from the screen, the view outside the sliders has changed.

I set SEALed With A Kiss on Topsail.
When I realized SEALed With A Promise had a sub-theme of Do-Lord and Emmie each looking for a spiritual home, in a little homage to Beau, who never got to write his novel, I named in a tiny, country crossroads where they meet “Sessoms’Corner.”

How about you? Do you have a spiritual home?


  1. Loved your blog today, for the images it gave me and for its heartfelt emotion. My spiritual home is my grandparents' country house, a place that was fixed solidly and permanently in my mind through childhood. I travel there in my sleeping and waking dreams. And now you've given me something interesting to think about all day long. Thanks so much.

  2. This was a beautiful blog, MM!

    I'm not sure I have a spiritual home just yet, but I do know I feel most at ease when I'm with my closest family and friends--perhaps my spiritual home is within them :)

  3. How wonderful, Christina, to have found your spiritual home so early that it became one of the structures in your unconscious!

  4. Danielle, the photos were taken in and around the cottage on Topsail.

    I went to Topsail for the first time not long after the conversation with Beau, but it was many, many years before I recognized it as my spiritual home.

    What makes a spiritual home is the love in the place, and of the place, not its geography. I can easily believe a spiritual home could be within our loved ones.

  5. That was downright poetic, MM! I don't have a spiritual home--unless maybe it's out in the barn schmoozing with the horses--but even if I did, I think yours would still be more beautiful.

  6. Why couldn't schmoozing horses be a spiritual home, Cheryl? Your love of the horses comes through clearly in SLAVE, and obvioulsy fanned the fires of inspiration.

  7. That was lovely Mary Margret. I wish I had such a place to retreat to. Alas, my bedroom is as good as it gets...for now. Like you as a youth, my 'spiritual home' if asked prior would be in Heaven with my Savior. Still is, of course, but I understand what you are saying. That place here in the physical world that gives us the peace and inspiration we need. What a wonderful thought! Yeah, I want one! Thanks for the great post.

  8. Mary Margaret, I love the beach. If I had a spot like that I would never come home. l0l

    I guess for me it is my back yard in the summer and my family room in the winter, although I love going to the lake, we usually party, so not very spiritual at all. But when I'm here at my house all day by myself, I am truly happy.

  9. I'm really loving being able to picture everyone in their "place," and also the insights I'm getting into each of y'all.

    Like Michelle happy by herself in her house, and Sharon in a bedroom, Christina able to dream about her grandparents' house, Danielle knowing she's in her place when she's with people she loves.

    Good stuff!! Thanks y'all.

  10. Hi Mary Margaret,
    This post was so lyrical and it's such a lovely subject to think that we can give ourselves the gift of a spiritual home. For me, it's probably also on the water. Growing up in the Newport, RI, area (where I live now, too) we spent most summers at the beach and on the boat. My dad has had a boat since he was in 8th grade and he has worked his way up to a 36 footer. It is my most favorite place to be in the world. I don't get much writing done out there because there are always lots of kids and activities going on, but a day on the boat or at the beach always restores me. I had a brief window of opportunity yesterday (insanity this week due to my launch party), called my dad and off we went for three lovely hours. Just enough to get me thru the week.

  11. Marie, you made me think of one of my favorite passages from Wind in the Willows.

    "...Beleive me my young friend, there is nothing--absolutlely NOTHING--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing," he went on dreamily, "messing--about--in--boats;messing--"


  12. That is me to a T, Mary Margaret!! I love that. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Great blog!

    Hands down. My spiritual home is Ireland.

    West Coast, South Coast, doesn't matter.

    No where else on earth am I more grounded.