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  • Linda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #2

“The shape of my life today starts with a family. I have a husband, five children and a home just beyond the suburbs of New York. I have also a craft, writing, and therefore work I want to pursue. The shape of my life is, of course, determined by many other things; my background and childhood, my mind and its education, my conscience and its pressures, my heart and its desires. I want to give and take from my children and husband, to share with friends and community, to carry out my obligations to man and to the world, as a woman, as an artist, as a citizen.

"But I want first of all -- in fact, as an end to these other desires -- 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 borrow the language of the saints -- to live ‘in grace’ as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus in which he said, ‘May the outward and inward man be at one.’ 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.


"Vague as this definition may be, I believe most people are aware of periods in their lives when they seem to be ‘in grace’ and other periods when they feel ‘out of grace,’ even though they may use different words to describe these states. In the first happy condition, one seems to carry all one's tasks before one lightly, as if borne along on a great tide; and in the opposite state one can hardly tie a shoe-string. It is true that a great part of life consists in learning a technique of tying the shoe-string, whether one is in grace or not. But there are techniques of living too; there are even techniques in the search for grace. And techniques can be cultivated. I have learned by some experience, by many examples, and by the writings of countless others before me, also occupied in the search, that certain environments, certain modes of life, certain rules of conduct are more conducive to inner and outer harmony than others. There are, in fact, certain roads that one may follow. Simplification of life is one of them.”


Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea (1955), pp.22-24, chapter II, "Channeled Whelk"


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