Recently I picked up a book that I haven't looked at in years...since my high school days, in fact. Why it grabbed my attention now I can't explain, but it did, so I decided to re-read Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea."
No doubt I read this book in high school in one of my English classes. I don't remember which. I do recall finding it boring...the ramblings of a middle-aged woman on a solitary vacation at the beach...pretty unimportant stuff for a teenager who'd experienced none of the events Ms. Lindbergh waxed upon so eloquently. It made little impression on me then, but in re-reading this dusty, yellowed volume, I was overwhelmed by her spot-on description of a woman's changing life and roles, her poetic reflections of the evolution of human relationships and the need for solitude. It is as relevant today as it was in 1955, and that both amazes and delights me. I should have re-read this book long ago. It would've saved me years of heartache and frustration.
Ms. Lindberg's description of the post-feminist era woman is just as applicable to the 21st century one: She says, "...woman toaday is still searching. We are aware of our hunger and needs, but still ignorant of what will satisfy them. With our garnered free time, we are more apt to drain our creative springs than to refill them. With our pitchers, we attempt sometimes to water a field, not a garden. We throw ourselves indiscriminately into committees and causes. Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle it's demands in distractions. Instead of stilling the center, the axis of the wheel, we add more centrifugal activities to our lives--which tend to throw us off balance." Time alone, meditation, music, reading and creative pursuits, Ms. Lindbergh states, are the answers to countering the centrifugal forces that threaten to tear us apart. What matters, she says, is that one spends time focusing INWARD. Solitude.
"Women must be the pioneer in this turning inward for strength. In a sense she has always been the pioneer. The very limitations of her life in past generations forced her to look inward. And from looking inward she gained an inner strength which man in his outward active life did not as often find, " she states. Ms. Lindbergh also argues that in being drawn into competing with men in the outer arena of activities, women have neglected their "inner springs." However, she also believes that men are also being forced to look inward now...to find solutions inside the self and not just outside. She poses, "Can it be that he is beginning to realize that the kingdom of heaven is within?" Yes...I believe so. The world is changing and we are changing with it, men and women alike. As the divine feminine energy of creation begins to permeate our world with gentleness, compassion and nurturing, our awareness of our own divinity, our internal 'kingdom of heaven' is inevitable.
Making time for quiet contemplation is essential to our health, not only our physical health but our mental and emotional health as well. Connecting with the divine through stillness....being that motionless axis on a turning wheel...is imperative for us to not only connect to source but to connect to each other. We are one, and when one individual contributes to the collective by loving self enough to be quiet and go within, the whole benefits. Love spreads and infuses each of us with it's healing energy.
Surely our families, our society, our world will find renewal in the application of solitude. It is not a disconnecting at all, but a re-connection to who we truly are...divine, perfect beings of love. Only today am I able to see, appreicate, understand and apply the timeless wisdom of "Gift from the Sea" in my own life. Thank you, Ms. Lindbergh. Time has not dimmed your light.