Shed, Shack, Studio, Poustinia, Cave Or...?

My first garden shed has been insulated and painted. It is now an office. And Brenda, who uses it, likes it. If I was Mrs. Bucket (Bouquet, please) of TV's 'Keeping Up Appearances' I would call my second, larger shed a chalet. This, too has been refurbished. But I am not Mrs. Bucket. So should I call it a studio? The previous owner used it as an art studio. Somehow I feel there is something more. The term 'The Shack' has been made famous by the novel of that name. God changed someone's life in that shack, yes she did. But that shack was not in the man's own garden. Some people would call it a poustinia, a place reserved for prayer, but I keep my family photos and writing materials there - and poustinias are meant to be stripped of such things. So I still look for a clue as to what to call it.

November 11 is Saint Martin's Day.Sulpicius Severus tells us that when Martin became Bishop of Tours he at first lived in a cell connected to the Tours church. This became impracticable because so many visitors came. So he created a hermitage two miles away. On one side was a precipitous rock face dotted with caves and on the other side was the river Loire, so his hermitage could only be approached by one person at a time. Eighty others became hermits in the hollowed out caves or in huts below.

Should I call my place a cave? This term is increasingly used as a symbol of a place of solitude where persons can be truly themselves and truly with God. But mine is not carved out of a rock face. Before Martin went to Tours he was a hermit in a white house. I live in a white house. Why don't we call this gift of a place at the end of a white house garden simply 'The Hermitage'?


Posted at 02:07am on 10th November 2011
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