A close friend recommended I read Gift From The Sea. I realized why it sounded so familiar, it was a book I’d seen for years on my mom’s bookshelf, completely unaware of what treasures filled its pages. I asked my mom if I could borrow it. We arrived on vacation and my mom brought me my own copy – one that she had purchased for her mom years ago. The bookmark still remained. It is one of those bookmarks with your name and the meaning. Being that I was named after my mom’s mom, it’s extra special that the bookmark says “Marjorie.”
I started the little book on vacation and finished it soon after my return home. It seems appropriate to share my thoughts with other mothers at a similar stage in motherhood where I find myself and where I understand Anne Morrow Lindbergh found herself when she authored it.
Written in 1955, 60 years ago, I was struck by her take on the world all those years ago. Much of it speaks to me as if it were written this morning. Modern amenities and endless distractions that make life busier and more challenging at times...I can relate! How we are fortunate enough to have the option to choose how complex or simple our lives are. That made me think about my choices and what do they say about me? How solitude and space are necessary for a woman to grow and be and think. How it felt as if she was losing an appendage when she said goodbye to her family for some time away but once she was gone, she knew it would all be ok.
Morrow Lindbergh beautifully provided insights to the ebbs and flows of relationships – relationships between romantic partners, sisters, mother and child – using her treasured seashells as metaphors. Many of you may find yourself in what the author described as the “Oyster Bed.” Here is how she describes it:
“It is an oyster, with small shells clinging to its humped back…Sprawling and uneven…It looks rather like the house of a big family, pushing out one addition…to hold its teeming life…It is untidy, spread out in all directions, heavily encrusted with accumulations.” (80, Morrow Lindbergh)
I know that sounds much like my oyster bed of a house. Amazingly awesome and full of life yet chaotic and almost crazy making at times when everyone including the dog beckons me for breakfast simultaneously. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t like it. These are the days of my life.
She reminds us how therapeutic work can be when we are not rushed and how simple pleasures of earth and conversation are fulfilling. When she talks of “purposeful giving” she perfectly explains it as:
And she further explains,
“Is not as apt to deplete one’s resources; it belongs to the natural order of giving that seems to renew itself even in the act of depletion. The more one gives, the more one has to give – like milk in the breast.”
And she further explains,
“Even purposeful giving must have some source that refills it. The milk in the breast must be replenished by food taken into the body. If it is the woman’s function to give, she must be replenished too. But how?” (47-48, Morrow Lindbergh)
I’m so grateful for the personal essays Anne shared with me and so many for the past 60 years. Her reflections answer her question of how to replenish and what those moments of solitude and intention did to refuel her soul.