How to make everything easy

DCF 1.0I once visited the Priory of Notre-Dame d’Orsan in the Loire Valley. Some years earlier, two young architects had left Paris and bought the medieval ruins set in a fertile farming landscape. Laboriously they renovated old stone buildings and created an extraordinary series of gardens inspired by the MIddle Ages.

From the utiliarian kitchen garden, with its cabbages, beans and lettuce, I wandered through the fragrant medicinal herb garden, and then into a symbolic hortus conclusus dedicated to the Virgin Mary, blooming, like a medieval tapestry with the lilies, roses and violets symbolic of the Virgin Mary. Espaliers of pear and apricot grew on delicate lattices along old brick walls. Patrice Taravella, one of the young architects, guided me through a living maze in which the incorrect turnings were marked by plants unknown in medieval France: tomato, tobacco, and coffee. In the secret heart of the maze grew an apple tree, its branches trained horizontal to form a flowering roof. In this Garden of Eden, I asked him how he and his partner were able to carry out such a demanding project: the research, gardens, buildings, cafe, and garden shop. He said, “Si vous avez la bonne structure, rien n’est difficile.” If you have the right structure, nothing is hard.

This holds true in writing too. Like the skeleton of the body or the foundations of a house, structure holds disparate elements together in a harmonious way. A firm overall structure will generate meaning on many levels, from the overall meaning of a book down to the meaning of chapters, paragraphs, and sentences. Structure is clarity, and clarity leads to understanding.

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