Monday, August 12, 2013

Reflections from Gift From the Sea

I'm rereading Anne Morrow Lindberg's Gift From the Sea for the tenth time. It's like the Bible in that no matter how many times you read it, you'll find something new every time. This morning's reading had this (she's talking about the marriage relationship) jumping out at me: "There is also a dead weight accumulation, a coating of false values, habits, and burdens which blight life. It is this smothering coat that needs constantly to be stripped off, in life as in relationships."

For several years now I've been decluttering our physical space. I think I noticed this paragraph above because maybe now it's time to simplify and clean out our marriage relationship. I'm not getting rid of him (ha) but would like to become more friends again. Now that all but one of our children are gone, it'll be easier. We don't have to wait to talk or shout to be heard over the din. We definitely have a 'smothering coat that needs to be stripped off' but how to go about it is puzzling to me. I think I'll treat it as an on-going, never-ending project and have my checklist made and ready.

Anne again, "One learns to accept the fact that no permanent return is possible to an old form of relationship, and more deeply still, that there is no holding of a relationship to a single form. This is not a tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth."

We've come a long way and shared a lot since we were married 37 years ago come August 28; five living children, three in heaven due to early miscarriages, moving cross country and back, building a house, home educating five children for 28 of those years, having three of those children seriously injured at different times and ages, three children married, six grandchildren, etc. We've had a good time together, and hopefully, God will grant us more years to try and perfect this thing called marriage.


M.K. said...

I found her books so interesting. She's a brilliant and articulate writer. So many parts I responded "Yes!" to -- she nailed certain things absolutely. I think your first quote is an example. Certainly we allow barnacles and scum to accumulate on our marriages, habits we barely notice in ourselves or our spouse. Little quibbles or meannesses that must be addressed. For me and Adam, lively, honest, kind communication is so helpful. A willingness to self-examine is helpful too.

About that second quote -- those are the kinds that stuck out to me in the book, and I found them SO sad. She makes blanket assessments of marriage relationships (I think) because she found, jadedly, that they were true in her own marriage. But they're not true in all marriages. When I went and read about her marriage, and her and her husband's infidelities, I realized how painful they'd been, how much they had hurt each other, and how little ability there is to repair and redeem relationships without the grace of Jesus in it. Just my opinion. I disagree that you must abandon the earlier brilliance and love in romance. I found it so sad that she repeatedly tried to convince herself that the slow degrading of a marriage, its demise into something less close, tight, intimate, was a natural development, one even to be desired. I found that horrible to contemplate, and I found it sad that her marriage had been such for her. It sounded so lonely.

GretchenJoanna said...

The second quote about forms of relationship does not strike me as so hopeless - maybe only realistic, and with a possible greater love. I heard an author on the radio one time talking about "what to make of a diminished thing" - in her case her husband had had a stroke and their relationship could never be the same. Yet she was determined to love him and enjoy him as much as she could, while acknowledging that there had been a diminishing of what had been.

Even in a marriage where the couple have a Christian hope, it seems to me they need to also accept the changes that are just the reality of two people living together through the decades. Even the one aspect of the children growing up changes the form. More hurtful events even when forgiven change things, even when God turns mourning into dancing.

Pom Pom said...

I wonder if she's trying to put a unique philosophical spin on the sacred rite of marriage and the long term evolution of individual relationships. Humans are so bent on comparing achievements, their body of knowledge, their relationships with others, and basically EVERYTHING else. Maybe AML felt too examined and in her quest for privacy, tweaked some of society's norms for herself. She had a hard life and the tragedy of her abducted and murdered baby was incomprehensible. I have a feeling she wanted intimacy with Jesus, just as we all do, but the world wanted to squeeze her into its mold. I think that the reason we like this book is because we recognize the human soul's hunger. On marriage: Our husbands only have one wife. The man we are married to is ours to love. We must strive to love them well, propelling them toward the Savior at every opportunity. The world can never tell us how do that. I was full of joy when our son-in-law said to our daughter, "I'll never forget your mom's advice to treat your family more carefully than your friends."
Yay, you're posting again, Debbie! Good stuff!

libbyquilter said...

this is one of my favorite books and you are so right; it can't be read too many times.

as people we grow and change as a response to our lives and all that we connect to. this is a healthy thing to do . . . bending with the winds of time keeps us from being broken off.
sometimes with the passing of time and all that life gives us to handle we do not see just how much has changed until things quiet down a bit . . . but I agree with Anne: "This is not a tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth."
i think it's very much a part of relationships as well. we grow older physically, we also change in other ways and what a shame if we can't see the beauty in a relationship being able to carry on with love despite the "ravages" of time.


Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Ooo... I love her book and have probably read it as many times. And it's true there's always something new to catch our heart's imagination.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

It's good to re-read Gift every so often; new insights are gained depending upon where we are in our journey of life. I wish and pray you well in your marriage journey; it can be fabulous but it takes concentration, being present and wanting for each other better than what you give yourself. It's difficult but well worth it, especially when you've nothing left but the memories.