mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry easily
like a hermit crab. But I do not.
I find that my frame of life does not foster simplicity."
Anne Morrow Lindbergh,
Gift from the Sea, Part 3
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 from the languages 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
when 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 ones 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 large 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 re 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.
I mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry
easily like a hermit crab. But I do not. I find that my frame of life
does not foster simplicity. My husband and five children must make their
way in the world. The life I have chosen as a wife and mother entrains a
whole caravan of complications. It involves a house in the suburbs and
either household drudgery or household help which wavers between scarcity
and non-existence for most of us. It involves food and shelter; meals,
planning, marketing, bills, and making the ends meet in a thousand ways.
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