West Virginia Morning: Island Precepts

Jeff keeps saying that he doesn’t remember a July like this—the air a cool caress. I wear the days like a second skin but the mornings awaken my soul.  In the mornings we step out into wonder—every dew-drenched blade of grass a world of its own.  I wiggle my toes in lush universes.
When we were at the beach I read Gift from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh.  In it she struggles with finding a balance between “solitude and communion, between retreat and return.”  It’s everyone’s struggle, I suppose, and I found comfort in these words originally published over fifty years ago.

“In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life. I can at least practice for these two weeks the simplification of outward life, as a beginning. I can follow this superficial clue, and see where it leads. Here, in beach living, I can try.”

The world has not changed so much.  Since my return from Haiti, I’ve been in constant motion. Even our time by the sea required bending to the desires and expectations of others. I returned less refreshed, less still than I have in the past.
It’s the season of life we are in, and Ann Morrow Lindbergh speaks to this in Gift from the Seaalso. We are moving from the “morning of life” to the “afternoon”—that place of natural slowing that creates in us a sense of anxiety and awareness of the dwindling nature of time.
But what if we looked upon middle age, the author asks, not as a time of decline, but as a time of “second flowering, second growth”?  When I hold on to the seed of eternity planted in my heart, I can almost feel it burst forth through the dark soil of this life, breaking free from the bindings this world places on my growth.
I have to make room for contemplation to hold on to this truth: I was made for more. Ann Morrow Lindbergh’s island-precepts are helping me to make that kind of space on a daily basis:

 “Simplicity of living, as much as possible, to retain a true awareness of life. Work without pressure. Space for significance and beauty. Time for solitude and sharing. Closeness to nature to strengthen understanding and faith in the intermittency of life: life of the spirit, creative life and the life of human relationships. A few shells.”

A morning in July. New worlds open up before me. Life begins anew with each breath.
Psst … did you hear? I’m giving away one copy of Emily’s book Atlas Girl. For a chance to win, just leave a comment on this post before next Sunday (7/20). I’ll announce the winner on next week’s Playdates with God post on Monday. 
ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree (www.thelulutree.com) is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel. 


  1. DeanneMoore says

    We’ve had a cool (and wet) summer here in the Deep South too. The chapters on the book of my life are turning quickly. My middle child, my oldest son will stand at the altar to take his bride next weekend. The youngest, also a son, is setting off for a gap year in the world in just weeks. A new story will begin in my life because it must…I was thinking about retreating this morning with the intention of setting aside time to fertilize “the seed” of a new day…Thanks you for sharing your dew drenched day. (I have em’s book so you know.)

  2. Jerry says

    I read her book years ago and must break it out once again. My solitude is early when the troops lie still before the day breaks upon us all. I know God is in the busy life that swirls round and round, but to pick up one shell and place it against my ear…oceans and universes and the God who whispers in His still small voice way. My doubt often simply looks at the shell on the ground. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. says

    I’m thinking through this need for calmness. Stillness. In the midst of a call to more and more ministry. Jesus did have down time, but very little. Your post added to the conversation. Thanks!

  4. June says

    I was just in Galveston (TX) for a few days – would have liked to have had time to read this while I was there. In the end. . . I brought home a few shells.

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