Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pondering Pages/Gifts From the Sea

A weekly MEME sponsored by Lara at Holy Mothering...

A few years ago, I experienced what I was sure was a mid-life crisis. I know that term seems so cliche, but I just can't explain it any other way. For the first time in my life I felt challenged to define who I really was and where I was headed with my life. Up until that point, I was always self-assured and confident. Suddenly, I felt like a frightened child, as if everything I had known and loved fell to pieces in my heart. I was scared, confused and depressed. I'm sure that God used this time to draw me closer to Him, as He often uses our trials in life as a means to show us His deep and tender love for us. In "Gifts from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, I felt the compassion and understanding of God through her words of experience. This book tells the story of a retreat she took at her summer home by the sea. While alone with God, the sea and her notebook, she pondered the meaning of her life in a beautifully poetic way and through her words, I no longer felt alone in my struggles.

"Many people never climb above the plateau of 40-50. The signs that presage growth, so similar, it seems to me, to those in early adolescence: discontent, restlessness, doubt, despair, longing, are interpreted falsely as signs of decay...In middle age, because of the false assumption that it is a period of decline, one interprets these life-signs as signs of approaching death. Instead of facing them, one runs away; one escapes into depressions, nervous breakdowns, drink, love affairs, or frantic, thoughtless, fruitless overwork. Anything rather than face them. Anything rather than stand still and learn from them. One tries to cure the signs of growth, to exorcise them, as if they were devils, when really they might be angels of annunciation.

Angels of annunciation of what? Of a new stage of living when, having shed many of the physical struggles, the worldly ambitions, the material encumbrances of active life, one might be free to fulfill the neglected side of one's self. One might be free for growth of mind, heart and talent; free at last for spiritual growth. Beautiful as it was, it was still a closed world one had to outgrow."

I also loved some of her passages about writing:

"What release to write so that one forgets oneself, forgets one's companion, forgets where one is or what one is going to do next-to be drenched in work as one is drenched in sleep or in the sea."

"I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living."

And finally, about friendship...

"Men kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn't seem to crack. Women treat it like glass and it goes to pieces."

And for my friend Judy, at BENMAKESTEN, some pieces of glass she's been wanting to see, my own gift from the sea!


  1. Anne,
    I read this book years ago, probably at an age too young to really appreciate it, so I think I am due for a re-read. The great thing about this book is you take something different away from it at different ages and stages of your life.
    "Angels of annunciation.." I love that! I also love the beautiful sea glass you've pictured here.
    Thanks for reminding me of this gem of a book.
    God Bless!

  2. I love the quotes on writing! The picture is great too.My niece collects sea glass and my daughter helps her [though sometimes they pick up ones that aren't softened yet]. I also enjoy your Sea Glass Prayer.

  3. What a great story! God definitely pull you nearer to Himself, and revealed what his plan was for you! You are so blessed!

    You are an inspiration!


    Also I love the pictures of the sea glass! :)

  4. Hi Anne -

    I haven't read this book although I did hear of it. I bet my wife read it - she reads EVERYTHING! It is so hard to find that place where one can really be alone. Can you image, being in a cabin, maybe on an island off the coast of Maine - no TV or computer - an old rotary phone [only for an emergency}. Just you and the sound of the sea.

    We really have to spend some time in a quiet - isolated place. I have so much noise in my life, I sometimes forget who I am.
    In 1995 I rented a small cabin on a lake in Maine. My wife, two kids, a friend, and
    our dog. I thought I was on "Golden Pond." Very early in the morning I would go outside - there would be a chill in the air, low fog above the still water - and I would hear the mysterious sound of the Loons.

    I have been through that middle age crisis - probably still in it. I am about to hit the big 54.

    **** I love that tree outside your window!!!

  5. Oh, thank you Anne! IT IS SO LOVELY!!! I'll bet you smile each time the sun drifts through that window! And I'm with Brian...great tree...many the climbers it gets, I'm sure!

    I must read this book...is the reading of it and that experience in your life, where your love of sea glass derived?

    Thanks so much for the photo...it's as beautiful as I imagined it would be!!!!!!

  6. Thanks Judy! Actually the book is about sea shells, and she relates the different types of shells to the stages of her life.

    I guess I've always loved sea glass, but the time I became a fanatic about it was 3 years ago when I stayed overnight at a little hermitage near the lake. Up until that point, the kids and I would go searching and we'd come home with one or two pieces to fight over. But on that retreat, my pockets were overflowing with it! Every time I bent down to pick up one piece, I'd find ten more! That's when I wrote the poem. I actually have several more jars of them, but they couldn't all fit into the picture. I've given lots away, too. If you'd like, I'll be happy to send some to you!

    The retreat was just the very beginning of the mid-life crisis. I think it was the first time I ever had a chance to spend time alone in silence with God for any length of time and I think it gave God the opportunity to really get through to me. But first, I had to work out a lot of junk that likes to sit inside of me. I guess that's where the long depression came in, it hurt to let go of all of my bad habits and sins. Not completely there yet, probably never will be and really, who is, but things are much better in my state of mind and soul now than they were then!

    Brian, I've always wanted to go to Maine. Maybe someday that will come true, but for now, Lake Michigan is the next best thing to the Ocean!

    Thanks too, Karinann and Mary for your kind comments, and yes, you too John!

  7. Hmmmm midlife crises? Could be me right now. But my baby is 16 now and I have sacrificed my entire life to my children, and now I feel like I want to pick up where I left off. Somewhere I either lost myself or found myself. I am not really sure. Perhaps both. But, I am also at a point where I have peace within myself too. Perhaps now I am ready to step out of my box and see the world with open eyes to those who are struggling with their faith, I don't know but your post has so brought a welcome thought of "An Angels Annunciation" perhaps for me! A new stage for living. God bless you sweetheart!

  8. I love Gift from the Sea -- such a thoughtful, beautiful little book. Your post is the second time I've run across the book title today -- perhaps the Spirit is nudging me to pick it up again.... :)

    God's blessings be upon you, Anne!