Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Tuesday Grace Notes – Gift From the Sea
Almost every time we speak, she asks me what I’m reading and has another new discovery to share. Talking about books, the stories people tell, and the wisdom gleaned from between pages is an ever-evolving on-going conversation for us. And while I associate the whole idea of reading with my mother, there are some books that are simply iconic for us both. Gift from the Sea is one of those.
I remember the muted teal cover with its bright pink lettering on the corner of her nightstand near her bed. The bookplate on the inside is slightly faded; a wise owl in the woods. I know the blue of the ink with which her name is written came from her favourite fountain pen. On the following page, her name and date are in the upper right corner – she owned this the year before my little brother was born. Centered on that same page is another inscription – a sweet remembrance twenty years later when she gave her copy to me.
We both hunt corners and top shelves of used bookstores for copies of this little tome to share with friends. For the longest time, I would only buy ones with the original cover – thinking of my mother and her gentle giving.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh penned this series of essays in the early 1950s – publishing her thoughts on a woman’s life, marriage, motherhood, and the themes of simplicity, solitude, and caring for the soul in 1955. Decades later, they still resonate, and over 3 million copies have been published in 45 languages.
Unlike so many of my books, I have not annotated or highlighted this one – not this copy at least. I know I have my own with my own notes and my own scribblings. This one though, this one is a connection to her. To the woman my mother was all those years ago when she had only one child and an endless, unfolding possibility in front of her.
Years before it became a popular phrase and something modern young women were striving for again, a whole generation of mothers and women clung to Anne’s words about grace and agreed with her in their hearts that they wanted “first of all – in fact, as an end to these other desires – to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well I can.”
There is more that my mother underlined and boxed for emphasis. I know she wanted balance, a shedding of masks, a freedom to simply be herself.
I know she believed this bit with all her heart, “every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day.” I believe it too – with of my heart, and know I struggle to find that solitude amidst the roles I play: mother, wife, writer, computer technician. How must my own mother struggled to find that quiet space too? There is always something pulling on us; demanding our attention; asking for just one more moment.
Through all the time that has past, Anne’s words remain timeless. A call for clarity and a dispersing of the distractions in our lives. She wraps her words around one shell at a time. Thoughtfully. Reverently. Believingly.
Her words remain an exquisite gift.
This is a gift from my mother. A gift from the sea.
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