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Book Reviews

Gift from the Sea: A Guided Journal (Bookbound, Wire-O, & Coptic Journals)
Book: Gift from the Sea: A Guided Journal (Bookbound, Wire-O, & Coptic Journals)
Written by: Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Publisher: Peter Pauper Press
Average Customer Rating: 5.0 / 5

Read this book at lease once a year
Rating: 5 / 5
Anne Morrow Lindbergh crafted this classic of lyrical meditations while on a private beach retreat on Florida's Captiva island, away from family and work. The book remains as fresh and meaningful today as when it first came out over a half century ago. Though most known as the wife of famous aviator, Anne was very accomplished in her own right as the first licensed woman glider pilot int the US, the author of 13 books, including Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead, in which she shared her pain at the kidnaping and murder of her infant son. In it, she wrote, "I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living." Anne died on February 7, 2001 at the age of 94. Gift from the Sea, has sold more than three million copies during the past half-century, and has been translated into 45 languages.

Lindbergh wrote this inspirational book for herself "in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships. . . . " It became a bestseller among all who find the complexity and demands of life and work eroding their idea of who they are, why they are here and how to regain a more peace filled life. Of the beach and peace, Lindbergh writes: "Here there is time, time to be quiet, time to work without pressure, time to think, time to watch the heron, watching with frozen patience for his prey."

The beach is not a place to work, to answer long overdue letters, or read a half dozen books or even to arrive with the intent to do anything. At first it is a place to rest and descend into apathy:

One is forced against one's mind, against all tidy resolutions, back into the primeval rhythms of the sea-shore. Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic rhythms of city and suburb, time tables and schedules. One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone. One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea; bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today's tides of all yesterday's scribblings.

During the second week her mind comes alive, and wanders and turns over like the gentle waves and a life that had drifted away with the ebb and flow of doing and being comes ashore as lessons from the sea. The gifts are in the form of rare sea shells that find their way up form the ocean floor like lost dreams and are deposited upon the sandy beach awaiting discovery and careful study which Anne does each evening..

Each chapter of the book is titled for a different sea shell. A Double-Sunrise seashell, a Moon shell, an Oyster shell, or even an Argonaut all serve as metaphors through which Lindbergh reviews her life and obligations to work, family, marriages, children and career. In coming across a deserted Channeled whelk shell that was once home to a hermit crab, who mysteriously ran away and left his only shelter, Anne wonders about her own running away and how in comparison to this pear shaped beauty that winds in a gentle spiral, she sees her life as untidy, barnacled, a barely recognizable shape that now seeks the grace of inner peace.

But 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 languages 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 am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, "May the outward and inward man be at one." 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.

The adaptable and tenacious Oyster Shell was her choice to represent the difficult middle years of marriage about which she writes:
. . . marriage, which is always spoken of as a bond, becomes actually, in this stage, many bonds, many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm. The web is fashioned of love. Yes, but many kinds of love: romantic love first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constantly rippling companionship. It is made of loyalties, and interdependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments. It is a web of communication, a common language, and the acceptance of lack of language, too; a knowledge of likes and dislikes, of habits and reactions, both physical and mental. It is a web of instincts and intuitions, and known and unknown exchanges. The web of marriage is made by propinquity, in the day to day living side by side, looking outward and working outward in the same direction.
Ths is a book full of timeless insights, one that explores in exquisite language and imagery what is most important in life: a time to oneself, the need for spirituality, the dangers of "a life on multiplicity," balance, creativity, inner strength solitude, intimacy and independence, and the shedding of masks. Gift from the Sea transcends gender boundaries and is like reading the shared confidences of a special friend. And of course, it makes for ideal beach reading,

"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy or too impatient," she writes. "To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should be empty, open, choiceless, as a beach waiting for a gift from the sea."

Couldn't put it down
Rating: 5 / 5
I read this while at a bed and breakfast for a weekend celebrating an anniversary with my husband and I couldn't put it down! I read it in two nights. It was a great read and I have since bought several copies to give to my girlfriends because I think that all women could benefit from Ann Lindbergh's wisdom.

A Wonderful Gift
Rating: 5 / 5
I read a Gift of the Sea for the first time about fifteen years ago. A used copy of the book was given to me by a close friend. I just love the book. The book helps you focus, slow down and most important, feel good. The author describes the ocean, and the beach, beach house and the experience so well, you can almost smell the salt air, hear the waves and feel the sand on bare feet. I've given the book as a gift four times. The first time, I gave my mother a copy, and she enjoyed it very much. The second time, I gave a copy to a mentor in a Family Development Course I took. I gave the book as
a thank you gift. This Christmas, I gave copies to two of my friends. One of my friends read the book out loud to her mother.


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