The Gift of the Holy Spirit

If you’ve read some of my past posts you know I love books! All books! I love how they feel and smell! I love words and writings; it doesn’t matter if the book is a real book or on a nook or kindle or and audio book anything to do with the written word I love! So here is the problem with my obsession with books, most of the time I get them start reading them and don't finish them. Or, I buy the book with every intention of reading it after I read whatever book I happen to be reading/listening to at the time. However, it ends up on a shelf somewhere or my overflowing nightstand only to be forgotten about until I unearth it in one of my angry declutter moments!
There are a few books I’ve tried to read several times, but for one reason or another, I just can’t get into it. One book, in particular, freaks me out every time I try to read it. Then there is a book that my dear friend Megan recommended, I mean highly recommended that I read. She loves it so much she reads it EVERY summer! I have read only a couple of books more than once and only one series more than twice. I cannot begin to fathom loving a book so much you read it every year. I can’t even watch my favorite Christmas films every year. Yet, she really wanted me to read this book, and generally I can read what she recommends, our tastes are usually very similar. However, when she suggested Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, I could not get into it. I tried reading it several times, and every time, I thought I would die of boredom! How is possible Megan read this book once let alone every summer for who knows how many years?

Today the Holy Spirit had great fun at my expense. My daughter had a meeting. We ran out of the house so fast this morning that I forgot to grab something to do while she was in the consultation. My phone went from 32% battery to 0 and turned off in the snap of two fingers, UNBELIEVABLE I have so much to do! What am I going to do for an hour while she’s in this meeting?! So, I decided to ask the person my daughter was meeting with if she happened to have any light reading I could use while I waited. I’m thinking a magazine or something like that. Instead, Rosie starts naming books off to me. She apparently had quite a little library going on in her office. Also, she had a fabulous selection of tools for keeping your hands occupied as well. You know squishy toys, hand strengtheners, Thinking Putty (like Silly Putty). As Rosie is reading the titles off she throws out Gift from the Sea. I share how Megan told me to read this great book and how I could never get into it. I say I’ll take Gift from the Sea out of guilt, and maybe this time I’ll get into it, even though another title sounded so much more attractive! And, while I’m at it, I’ll borrow some of that Thinking Putty too.

With book, Thinking Putty and coffee in hand, I head to the lobby to wait. Often the waiting area is filled with lots of people, but today it is quiet and serene. I settled myself into one of the chairs, pulled out the putty and began to knead as I read the introduction. Wait a minute, I turn the book over, I read the back cover, is this the same book Megan recommended? It can’t be! I take out my small notebook and begin to jot down notes. There is no way this is the same book I tried to read before, it can’t be! Words started to jump off the page at me! One sentence and then another, was this woman living with me and observing my day to day life then writing about it? I felt like she was living in my head. From the introduction on I was dying to highlight and underline so much! To flag pages to refer to later. I had to restrain myself… this isn’t my book, just take notes, write down the pages you wish to flag that way after you buy the book you can mark those particular pages, I thought.
I read intently! Wait is this the same Anne Lindbergh married to Charles Lindbergh? The woman whose baby was kidnapped?! I checked the copyright date, 1955, I wasn’t even born when she wrote this book. How could this woman know me and my thoughts so intimately? She had written it before I was born, she was dead now. Why hadn’t these words struck me before, as they were now? I read again… “I had the feeling, when the thoughts first clarified on paper, that my experience was very different from other people's. (Are we all under this illusion?)” “Besides, I thought, not all women are searching for a new pattern of living, or want a contemplative corner of their own. Many women are content with their lives as they are. They manage amazingly well, far better than I, it seemed to me, looking at their lives from the outside. With envy and admiration, I observed the porcelain perfection of their smoothly ticking days. Perhaps they had no problems or had found the answers long ago. No, I decided, these discussions would have value and interest only for myself.”
These are my thoughts! How is it this woman wrote these words 61 years ago and was struggling with the same things I am? Have all woman struggled as I have been? Can’t be, this is just the introduction, it’s a fluke. Calming my racing thoughts, I read some more. Anne speaks of intently studying the empty shell of a hermit crab. How intricate it is, how small yet perfectly created it is, how absolutely beautiful it is today as it was they day it was made. “My shell is not like this, I think. How untidy is has become! Blurred with moss, knobby with barnacles, its shape is hardly recognizable anymore. Surely, it had a shape once. It has a shape still in my mind. What is the shape of my life?” The shape of my life? Blurred, knobby, definite descriptions of the chaos in my life. How did I end up thinking so much like one of America’s most famous people? I’ve read nothing by her or about her other than she was married to Charles, and her first born was kidnapped. I read on, she had a family, she was married, she had five children, a home in the suburbs, a craft for writing, work she wanted to pursue in writing. Anne wanted to give and take and share with her family, her friends, the community. She had obligations that she wanted to live out for man and the world as a woman, a citizen, and an artist. I felt like a mirror image of this woman except for the notoriety and the kidnapping.

“I want 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 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.” To be at peace with myself, to live in grace, peace, grace, my ultimate desires! To live in peace and grace. I sit my eyes damp with tears welling up, I bite them back. I’m only on the second chapter what does the Holy Spirit want me to get from this? Is He trying to tell me that all women struggle even rich and famous ones? Great! I get it, but is there a fix? Will I ever figure it out and get it right? I’m so exhausted, I need the peace and grace that will grant me rest and rejuvenation.

I express to three different people my story of attempted reading and how now it is completely different, nothing like I remember. How the Holy Spirit must have wanted me to read this book now, that I must need to hear it’s message now. All three people express their opinion that sometimes it’s a timing thing, other times it’s a receptive thing. Rosie tells me to keep it, keep the book! Mark it up to your heart's content, Rae the office manager is obsessed with the book and has extra copies all the time. However, I must promise to read Anne’s daughter’s biography of Anne after I finish this book. Rosie goes on to explain that the publisher had Anne make this book not just palatable but delicious. Anne’s biography reveals more deeply the grit and things she actually struggled with. And so, I pack everything up, book in hand and leave. I can’t wait to read and highlight, underline, mark, make notes and unearth what awaits for me. I can’t wait to see why it is Megan loves this book so much. I can’t wait to see if the answers my soul has been yearning for, so deeply, are revealed to me through this small little book.

As I write this I begin to contemplate, just the small amount I’ve read shows a woman’s heart in discord, pain, and struggling if this is the beautiful version how much more did this woman go through? I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to have your child stolen from your home and later found dead. My only comparison is a miscarriage, and while that was extremely painful, I know in the depths of my soul that what Anne went through must have been excruciating, gut-wrenching. How did she get up each day and breath let alone live? Am I really so much like this woman? Do I have a clue what it’s like to live as she did? Am I really struggling? Do I have the right to grapple? Somewhere deep inside I hear a still small voice whisper a yes, and I am reminded of a quote from the movie Ghost Town "Your...Your story, it's not boring and ordinary by the way. I mean, we just get one life, you know? Just one. You can't live someone else's or think it's more important, just because it's more dramatic. What happens matters. Maybe only to us, but it matters. " Gwen to Pincus

"What happens matters. Maybe only to us, but it matters.” I am reminded yet again I matter, if to no one else than to God! I am here for a reason and a time to live out some purpose designed only for me. My life will make a ripple that will affect others for good or for bad depending on how I live it. I need to grapple and strive, to work things out, to find my purpose just as everyone must (some maybe sooner than others). In my time, I pray that I will find balance and grace and peace that my soul so longs for. And, in doing so, I hope that all will come together like a completed jigsaw puzzle revealing the picture of my true person, my soul purified in the light of the Lord.

(Names changed to protect the innocent)

Lindberg, Anne. Introduction. Gift of the Sea. New York: Pantheon, 1955. 9-10. Print.

Lindberg, Anne. "2." Gift of the Sea. New York: Pantheon, 1955. 22-23. Print.

Ghost Town. Dir. David Koepp. By David Koepp and John Kamps. Prod. Gavin Polone. Perf. Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, and Téa Leoni. Paramount Pictures, 2008. Film. 


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