Inner stillness. Knowing yourself. Return to the Sea by Anne Johnson (Nov 2007)

Susan's Thursday Note November 15, 2007
Return to the Sea by Anne Johnson (Reflections on Anne Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea)
Inner Stillness.  Knowing yourself.  

Good morning! It’s taking me some very strong coffee to come up with coherent thoughts for you all this morning! I read a new favorite book this week (grin!). I will put it as my top three I loved it so much. It is called Return to the Sea by Anne Johnson, reflecting on the book I’ve written to you previously on, Gifts From the Sea. This book is simple, yet the depth of her thoughts on pursuing “knowing yourself” and “stillness within” are compelling. I already ordered a case, and honestly can think of no better gift to women in your life (especially 30’s-90’s) than a set of Gift From the Sea with this book of reflections on that book. I am serious in that suggestion to all of you. (Oh, shoot – it’s 6:08 & Camden just called moooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy).

Okay, I’m back, this time with another cup of coffee & a sick child on the couch! I’m having a hard time trying to decide how to consolidate a few of the points she makes. Let me just turn to a section and type what I underlined. I hope it works for you this morning, giving you a little bit to think about for your next week. She has one line that I love to read. She states that her emotion when reading Gifts From the Sea as the feelings of being a lost child. A found-lost child. Don’t you love that line? A found-lost child. A child trying to steady herself, too big to collapse into a puddle of tears and rush into her mother’s arms. I just absolutely love that line?!

…It seemed as if the older I got, the harder it was to discern who I was. I was too busy responding to the cares & concerns of others – my family, friends, clients, and community – to sort out my own needs and desires, the purpose of my life. Gradually, I had slipped into becoming the roles that I played…Giving of myself came naturally and gave me a certain sense of satisfaction, yet deep down inside, I often felt a vague sense of emptiness. It seemed as if I had lost a part of myself in the process of attending to the needs of so many other people. My inner emptiness felt like a yearning for completion and fullness, a longing to feel connected to my core, my inner essence, the real “me.” I was empty…I wanted to fill myself up. I wanted to be full – like the moon – “full and round, replete with power.”

This next part is a really beautiful paragraph in the book… And what about the moon’s secret – the one I had lain awake nights trying to discover? The secret to the moon’s ability to bestow her light so generously on others, while remaining “full and round, replete with power,” is that her light is not hers alone. It is a radiant reflection of the sun who, like the divine Light in my heart, is sometimes hidden, but never gone.”

This book discusses relationships, pain, solitude, growth. I don’t even know how to describe it. The book is not on suffering or grief. The book is on how to use our thoughts, even among a busy lifestyle… how to discipline our mind and our lives to give ourselves time to be ourselves, not just roles that we play. Here are a few other beautiful sentences I underlined – hard to share with you when you don’t read the entire context, but some of you will immediately grasp why I found them worth my thinking time…

 – I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable…

… Did you know that birds have two songs? That song we are hearing is the song of survival. It’s very different from the exuberant, joyful song of spring, when the bird knows the world will be warm again…I uncovered a deep source of joy – the pearl – that lives in the heart of every child before she begins to close herself off in response to pain…now I am able to perceive difficult times as “angels of annunciation”: the song of survival sung in the stillness before the joyful song-of-life returning can be released in all its splendor from deep within my heart…when our minds are open, they are powerful instruments for reaching and grasping new dreams, new ideas… It is true, I think, that understanding is the only thing that frees one.

Okay – I’ll stop!!!! I love knowing my source of “light” is from my prayer life, my time to become like the God who created me. I do not have to do anything on my own. How freeing that is to continually remember the verse, Be Still and Know that I am God. All of who I am comes from that sentence. May you have time to thank God this coming week of Thanksgiving. To find, no matter what the season of fall brings to your mind, peace. A peace that is beyond your understanding. May God bless you these holidays. Susan

Works Cited:
Johnson, Anne M. Return to the Sea : Reflections on Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. New York: Inner Ocean/Innisfree P, 2005.