The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

31 August 2013

The Great Reading project: Gift from the sea

What a gem this book is - a gift indeed.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, in 1955, took a vacation on the Florida Gulf Coast, during which she wrote this collection of reflections inspired by various found treasures on the beach. And treasures on the beach, as we all know, are shells.  Each shell - the Channelled Whelk, the Moon Shell, the Double-Sunrise, the oyster bed, Argonauta -  provides her food for thought about the interior life, relationships, and daily life.

Gift from the sea, though a slender volume and written in a thoroughly approachable fashion, imparts wisdom, inspiration, and, insight enough for months of meditation and reflection. Though men as well as women would glean much from this book, the author writes very personally from her own experience and knowledge as a woman. She touches particularly on a woman's need for quiet, creativity, purposeful giving of herself, and knowledge of herself in order to know and connect with others in meaningful ways. I heard echoes of Alice von Hildebrand and Edith Stein in some of what she writes, and in fact she quotes from several Catholic saints.

If I could copy out the whole of the chapter titled 'Moon Shell' for you to read here, I would do so. In it, Anne writes particularly about the importance of feeding the soul, and feeding the soul requires silence and solitude in some measure every day, every month, every year.

My one complaint of the book isn't really a complaint so much as a moment of sadness and came while reading the epilogue of the 50th anniversary edition I have. The epilogue was written in 1975 and the influence of the feminist movement is evident. In this little book is evidence that one of the results of radical feminism is stripping beauty out of the feminine, leaving ugliness in its place. I hasten to reassure you that Anne does not spout feminist diatribes, but it is clear that the movement in full swing by 1975 has coloured her writing.

And so concludes another book from The Great Reading Project. I have begun on Dante's Inferno, the book that sparked this initiative. It's the one I've really really been wanting to read, so here goes!

Small Island  - Andrea Levy

Inferno – Dante

Heart of the matter – Graham Greene

The Snakepit – Sigrid Undset

Sound and the fury – William Faulkner

Man and woman – Alice Von Hildebrand

The Cloistered Heart – Nancy Shuman

Invisible man – Ralph Ellison

Masterful Monk (series) – Owen Francis Dudley

Shepherd’s castle – George MacDonald

Last light – Terri Blackstock

84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff

Gift from the sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Unlocked – Karen Kingsbury



  1. Hi Julie, thank you for visiting the Lighthouse!

    Did you mean Dante? I'm wondering if I should be reading it with a commentary... am I missing too much relying on my own interpretation?