Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Anne Lindbergh:poet of the Inner Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Anne Lindbergh:poet of the Inner Life

Article excerpt

For years, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's slim volume, "Gift From the Sea," has occupied an unobtrusive spot on my bookshelf. Although the pages have yellowed and the book has remained mostly unopened since several readings in the 1970s, even a glance at the title produces warm memories of her lyrical reflections on women's search for meaning in their lives.

Now, with news of Mrs. Lindbergh's death last week, the book raises an intriguing question that prompts a rereading: Have her philosophical meditations withstood the test of time?

The answer is yes. If anything, the book assumes new rele- vance in the context of 21st-century roles and demands.

Women's lives - and men's, too - have changed dramatically since Lindbergh published her book in 1955. Eisenhower was president. American families were nesting, producing the generation that would come to be known as baby boomers. They were also practicing what McCall's cozily termed "togetherness." Most mothers did not hold paying jobs.

Yet even then, buried beneath idyllic white-picket-fence portrayals of family life and images of contentment, simplicity was a myth. Decades before "balancing" and "juggling" came to describe the complexities today's working parents face, Lindbergh, the mother of five, lamented the "life of multiplicity."

"What a circus act we women peform every day of our lives," she writes. "It puts the trapeze artist to shame."

Arguing persuasively for simplification, she states, "I want first of all ... to be at peace with myself." She adds, "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."

Since then, a consumer society has increasingly emphasized the outer life and visible trappings of success: a title on the door at work, an accumulation of ever-bigger and more expensive possessions at home. The inner life has faded in importance. Yet the yearning for simplicity and peace still runs deep. …

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