I read this lovely little book recently, and found it quiet but full of wisdom and inspiration. I had seen a quote from it on Elizabeth Wein’s Livejournal and something about it caught my attention. Then I saw a battered, yellowed, falling-apart paperback in a thrift store and thought, “Fifteen cents–why not?” It was a good investment and I plan to purchase a non-falling-apart copy in the future.
If I had to sum up Lindbergh’s point in this book, I think I would say that it’s a dialogue, an examination of how to live a life that’s at the same time spiritual, creative, and responsible, particularly from and for a woman’s point of view. One of the things I enjoyed about it was the lack of pronouncements. It’s tentative, feeling its way from shell to shell, from thought to thought. Moreover, it’s written from a perspective which is Christian but which doesn’t feel pushy or denominational.
The first half was what resonated most strongly with me, focusing as it does on the search for creative life amidst the world. The second half focuses more narrowly on marriage and so I found it less personally helpful, although I think it’s something I could well come back to in the future.
While the book is certainly written by, about, and for women, it seems to me that it has a wider usefulness, something with Lindbergh herself mentions in a few places.
It’s one of those books where I could practically quote the whole thing, but here are a few tastes. Hopefully they whet your appetite!
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 live “in grace” as much of the time as possible…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 problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.
Total retirement is not possible. I cannot shed my responsibilities. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return.
Book source: my personal library (via Salvation Army)
Book information: Signet, 1960. Adult non fiction