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Monday, July 7, 2014

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I finally read Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It's a short book, first published in 1955, and now considered a classic.

I was surprised by the beauty of the book's language and by its relevance to today's world. Morrow Lindbergh uses nature to help her think about her role in her world. For help, she refers to the words of famous poets - and of her own friends.

She is as poetic and philosophic as T.S. Eliot in "Four Quartets," but easier to understand. Hers is a gentle touch, and a humble one.

In an afterward she wrote in 1975, she says she is astonished that a book of essays written to work out her own problems "should have spoken to so many other women." I would suggest that her words are just as poignant today for men as for women.


"Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone."

"Here is a strange paradox. Woman instinctively wants to give, yet resents giving herself in small pieces. Basically is this a conflict? Or is it an over-simplification of a many-stranded problem? I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelessly."

"In housework, as in the rest of life, the curtain of mechanization has come down between the mind and the hand."

"Woman's life today is tending more and more toward the state William James describes so well in the German word, 'Zerrissenheit - torn-to-pieces-hood.'"

"...there is no holding of a relationship to a single form. This is not tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth."

"Intermittency - an impossible lesson for human beings to learn. How can one learn to live through the ebb-tides of one's existence? How can one learn to take the trough of the wave?"

"The here, the now, and the individual, have always been the special concern of the saint, the artist, the poet, and - from time immemorial - the woman."

Anne Morrow Lindbergh with her husband, Charles Lindbergh.
Anne died at age 94 in 2001.

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