“…I want first of all…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 as I can. I want, in fact – to borrow from the language of the saints – to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible…By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony…I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God…”
—- from Ann Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift From the Sea”
I recently read this book because Marie from Permission to Unwind mentioned it. I actually listened to the book on a college road trip while I spent quality time with my son (who was wrapped up in headphones, texting, or sleeping.) The writing and themes in this book struck a chord with me. The author, wife of Charles Lindbergh, wrote the book in the 1950’s yet it speaks to women today. She writes from the seclusion of the beach about the stages of a woman’s life….the busy-ness of our lives and our desire to be at peace. Although she doesn’t have all the answers, simply enjoying the book’s prose is soothing. And, as Marie and I have discussed, there is comfort in knowing that she asked the same questions that we all ask. That we are all on the same journey.
I envy the author’s opportunity to be away at the beach for three weeks. Away from her kids, the trappings of home, the tv, the phone, the computer. We had a power outage last night for about 30 minutes and it was the most peaceful half hour in our house in a long time! Rarely do I get a chance to be truly alone. When I am at my job, cutting fabrics and filling orders, I enjoy a sense of being alone. My mind can wander and think through problems in my day. When I am knitting, I experience a similar sense of being alone in my mind. But too often my life is filled with music and the computer, worries and simply many, many “to-do” thoughts. Occasionally, I head to the beach alone. I especially love the beach in the fall. The screaming children are back in school, the sun warms, but you can enjoy it in your street clothes, the winds and waves are strong and help to drown out your thoughts.
A number of years ago, I read Alone, the amazing account of Admiral Richard Byrd’s five month stay at the South Pole. It’s a remarkable story of survival. I try to imagine how, under these extreme circumstances, the spirit endures. Although I wouldn’t want to be alone for five months, I try to imagine what I would do if I were alone… I remember a homily from our dear, former pastor who talked about this book and used it as an inspiration for us to try to find some “alone” time during Lent. I feel that I spend more time seeking to be alone….to find that peace….to re-center….than actually reaching it.