Tag Archives: Gifts from the Spirit

Meeting Reeve Lindbergh

“You write, and if there is one person in the world who you are sure will understand it is enough, and what you write glows with some kind of inner life, some life of its own.”  (Anne Morrow Lindbergh: War Within and Without, p.447)

[Over the years since the publication of Gifts from the Spirit: Reflections on the Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, I’ve worked on some other essays reflecting, specifically, on Anne Morrow Lindbergh and writing. This one captures a memory I’ll never forget.]

When Anne learned the news that Antoine de Saint Exupery had been killed flying for the French resistance in World War II she confided her feelings of futility about continuing to write into her diary. Anne knew that above all others Saint Exupery had deeply understood her work—he got her. She’d written The Steep Ascent—her 1944 novella—to him.  Anne’s meeting with Saint Exupery in 1939 had emboldened her to attempt this first work of fiction. Based on an true harrowing incident that occurred while flying over the Alps with Charles, The Steep Ascent is a parable that illustrates Anne’s belief, shared by Saint Exupery, that life is lived most fully when one is conscious of the shadow of death. Her hope for its publication was that it would reach him—as a letter might—but it never did. He died too soon. What was the point of writing now, she wondered. Who else could understand as he could?

Many things motivate people to write. Money, fame, immortality, recognition, self-expression, pure love of the craft—any or all of these may fuel a person. But I believe that underlying all these things one who has the soul of a writer writes for a more fundamental reason: the longing to connect. No matter the subject matter. Whether you have a story to tell or a subject to bring to life, you write because you want to touch someone—you long for communion.  

While working on the reflections for Gifts From the Spirit I was aware of writing to please myself. This may sound strange, but when you’ve lived most of your life trying to please others and finally are able to embrace the futility of that it’s enormously liberating. I had learned so much in the twenty years since I’d first imagined writing the book to actually doing it. In writing the reflections I was reminding myself of what I’d learned to be true.   

I later realized there was a little more to it than this. While I didn’t really write to please anyone but myself, there were certainly people who I wanted to like what I wrote.  First on that list would have been Anne herself.  I was aware, though, that she would never read my book; she died the year before its publication.  But right behind Anne on my list was her daughter.

Reeve Lindbergh is the youngest of the six Lindbergh children. Of the four remaining siblings, Reeve is the only daughter and the most actively involved in supporting the legacy of her parents. She is the author of several children’s books as well as books having to do with her famous family. I’d read her work over the years and it was clear to me that she’d struggled with who her parents were and who she was in relation to them, and that she was an aware, sensitive person, as her mother was. I hoped that one day I would meet her. 

At my very first meeting with Roy Carlisle in San Francisco he suggested I contact a member of the Lindbergh family to explain my proposed book. He felt it might be important to have their support in getting permission to use quotes from Anne’s diaries and letters. I knew just which family member that should be.

A few weeks after I sent off a letter to Reeve, care of her publisher in New York, I came home to a message from her on my voicemail.  She not only liked my idea for the book, she gave me the name, address, and phone number of her mother’s editor at Harcourt, Brace in San Diego and told me I should let the editor know that she, Reeve, had recommended I speak to her. She also left her own number at her home in Vermont, telling me to feel free to phone her if I wanted to.  Her voice was warm, enthusiastic, and kind—it was clear she wanted to be helpful.  It took a couple of days for me to recover from the shock and thrill of receiving this message. Then I worked up my courage to call her back.  

“She of all people would know whether I had captured something of her mother’s essence in my reflections. She seemed to feel I had, and that meant the world to me.”  

I learned that Reeve loved her mother’s diaries and letters best of all her published work and so was pleased to support a work that celebrated them. We spoke for several minutes and all the while I was speaking calmly and normally–I hope–my feelings were jumping up and down inside of me, doing back flips and cartwheels: Oh my God. I’m talking to Reeve Lindbergh! At the end of the conversation I promised to keep her posted on how the project developed.

Once my manuscript was complete, I sent it to her. Not long after, she sent me a handwritten response. This was not the first time I’d received a note from her and wouldn’t be the last. I have a file marked “Reeve Lindbergh” where I keep this treasured correspondence. Her lovely and gracious letters came on heavy ivory note cards with her letterhead printed in black at the top. This time was no exception.  My heart was in my throat as my eyes slid over the now familiar black-inked half print, half script.  She wrote:

How very touched my mother would be, as I am, to know that you have taken her words and gone forward with them into your own unique and important wisdom, out into the world. Your own understanding is extraordinary, your own words so beautiful—“The unbearable is latent everywhere. Even in beauty.” She would love that!

Reeve Lindbergh had quoted my own words back to me!  She wrote some other wonderful things about my book too, things that she gave my publisher permission to quote to use for promotional purposes.  

I was flooded with warmth, gratitude, and a deep sense of satisfaction. Reeve’s opinion was important to me because I knew I could trust her response. She of all people would know whether I had captured something of her mother’s essence in my reflections. She seemed to feel I had, and that meant the world to me.  

The summer before my book’s publication I finally met Reeve in person in her hometown in Vermont. Knowing I would be in the east, visiting friends in the New York area, I had called ahead from California and invited her to meet me for lunch. I would happily make the drive to Vermont from New York. To my delight, she accepted and suggested an inn where I could spend the night when I got into town.  At noon the day of our meeting, I was in the lobby of the hotel, pacing as nervously as a teenager before a blind date, waiting for her to pick me up—something she had graciously offered to do. In a moment, Reeve came bursting through the front door, all smiles and warmth, and full of apologies for being just a few moments late. Her daughter had just returned from a trip the night before, and they’d sat up late talking. She shooed away my protestations about taking her away from her with a laugh; she was still in bed!  They hadn’t even unloaded her gear yet, she said as we headed into town, waving her hand toward the backseat of her Jeep that was a jumble of duffle bags and jackets.

Dressed in a cool periwinkle summer dress with a simple golden chain around her neck and gold hoops in her ears below her short curly blond hair, Reeve was down to earth, extremely easy to talk to, and a very good sport, even posing for a picture with me at the bookstore where we stopped for lunch. I felt a slight hesitation in asking for one when she introduced me to her friend, the bookstore owner, but I knew I would always regret it if I didn’t. There was a dream-like quality to this meeting and I was afraid that if I didn’t have a picture, I would suspect later that I had made it up.

Once introductions were over, we settled into our booth at the café and ordered iced teas and smoked salmon salads. I had read over the menu, registering absolutely none of it. Food was the furthest thing from my mind, so having no appetite, I simply followed her lead. As the waitress retreated, Reeve folded her hands and directed her china blue gaze at me across the table.

Now. What are we going to do to help you sell your book?

I was struck speechless for a moment, but it wouldn’t be the last time that day.

The conversation that followed included everything from the sharing of names, phone numbers, and addresses of people she felt I should contact, to discussions about future writing projects—hers and mine—to what kinds of books we each liked to read. I learned that Reeve is partial to mysteries. 

Occasionally, moments of awareness would flash across my consciousness, and I’d realize I was seated across the table from the daughter of two icons of the twentieth century. Two icons that I felt I knew intimately from reading everything they had ever published. The sense of the surreal vanished quickly, however, as the normalcy of simply enjoying our salads and iced teas and discussing everything from publishing to our sons who are about the same age brought me back to the present. And all the time the laundry of her returning daughter was sprawled across the backseat of her green Jeep Grand Cherokee that waited for us outside at the curb—just like any mother’s might be.

Afterward we lingered in the bookstore for a bit, chatting and browsing through the children’s section, where we saw several of her titles. Just as I was thinking that our time together was drawing to a natural conclusion and that we would soon head back to drop me off at my hotel, Reeve asked if I would like to come out to her farm to see the home where her mother had spent her final days. 

Things were not feeling so normal anymore.

“Reeve led me inside the cozy tent-shaped cottage that felt as if her mother had been there as recently as that morning. What is this thing that is presence and yet not presence?

When in her nineties Anne had become debilitated by dementia and a series of strokes that rendered her unable to communicate or care for herself, Reeve’s husband designed an A-frame that duplicated the chalet that had been a second home to her in Switzerland for many years. Then he built it on their farm property just yards from their own home.  It was here that Anne spent her final days with round the clock caregivers and her daughter and her family, and it was here that she died.  Reeve wrote poignantly about this difficult chapter of their lives in her book No More Words: A Journal of My Mother Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

I was mildly stunned. Agreeing to meet me for lunch had been so kind of Reeve. It was more than enough. This was an extension of grace I had not expected.

Our easy conversation continued unabated on the drive out to her farm. We swapped impressions of my hometown, St. Louis, the city whose name was borne across the Atlantic on her father’s plane, the city that cherished all things Lindbergh and welcomed her as one of its own. She also told me about a theatre company there that once invited her to a premiere of a play about the kidnapping and murder of her oldest brother—as if this was something she would actually be interested in seeing. We shook our heads in mutual dismay at this. The flow of our talk slowed just as we pulled up to the chalet and parked. Then, silence descended.

The sense that I was treading on sacred ground was palpable, and I became very quiet. Reeve led me inside the cozy tent-shaped cottage that felt as if her mother had been there as recently as that morning. What is this thing that is presence and yet not presence? [1] I thought of Anne’s apprehension of her lost baby boy so many years before as she touched the clothing and playthings left behind in his empty nursery. In the same way, she now seemed to be present in this space so full of her things. We walked through the door, past the tiny kitchen and into the sitting room where a worn and comfortable blue and white patterned sofa rested under a large picture window that looked out onto the Vermont countryside. The mantel over the fireplace was lined with feathers, stones, and shells. Dozens of shells.  

Reeve walked over, picked one up, and pressed it into my hand. Here, she said gently.

Wordlessly, I accepted the gift and my fingers closed around it. The smooth thick cone shell fit perfectly into the palm of my hand and I clutched it as she led me from the living room into the room that had been Anne’s bedroom, the room where she died.

Here was the window that looked out onto the tree where, despite the bleakness of February, birds came and perched on its snow-laden bare branches just after her passing. First the chickadees, then the juncos, then the bluejay. All paying their final respects, all saying goodbye.[2] She had loved birds and taken joy in watching and feeding them daily.

Next to the window was her bed, a single bed, and I thought of how she had lived for more than twenty years as a widow alone. Framed photographs seemed to fill the room and covered the entire surface of her desk. Here were the real people I had only read about: Charles, their children, their grandchildren, Anne’s own parents and brother and sisters—many of them long gone—only their images witnesses to her passing. I stood on the edge of this small room taking it in as Reeve stood quietly in the doorway, and was overcome again with a sense of Anne’s presence as tears welled in my eyes. I was standing on holy ground. Wordless, still, I could only breathe and grasp my shell tightly.  

Eventually Reeve took me down some carpeted stairs to the basement, a finished room with floor to ceiling bookshelves that was Anne’s library, and the transcendent spell was broken by the unwelcome intrusion of my cell phone. I quickly apologized and switched it off. As I perused the titles, many of which were first editions of the Lindberghs’ own books just like the ones on my own shelves at home, Reeve explained that many of the books would be donated to a local Buddhist meditation center. I remembered reading in her book that some of Anne’s caregivers in her final years had been associated with that center.

I have no recollection of what we spoke of later on the drive back to my hotel. I do remember, though, that when Reeve and I took our leave of each other at the entrance to the inn amidst an embrace and my murmurs of profound thanks, Anne’s shell remained tucked into the palm of my hand as if it simply belonged there. It had never occurred to me to put it into my bag. Like a small child who receives an unexpected, too-good-to-be-dreamed-of treasure, I couldn’t seem to let it go and held it firmly all the way back to my room.


[1]  Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973), p. 258.

[2] Reeve Lindbergh, No More Words: A Journal of My Mother Anne Morrow Lindbergh (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001) p. 169

Sue and Her League of Extraordinary Women

Sue Trantham Rector (back row, third from right) is a woman with an exceptional ability to attract, lift up, and inspire just about everyone she meets.

Sue and I were high school classmates, but didn’t actually become friends until we were well into middle age.

A few years ago out of the blue, I received a long, lovely email from her. She reintroduced herself, told me a good deal of her life story, and explained the reason for getting in touch.

Sue was in a transition period in her life. She had discovered Gifts from the Spirit: Reflections on the Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s classic itself: Gift from the Sea and wanted me to know how much both books had meant to her.

As she wrapped up her email, she wrote:

When I finished your book, I felt somewhat sad because I am always looking now for ‘genuine friends,’ those individuals that I can truly be myself and have a connection, an intimacy with. Wish you still lived here…I think we could be good friends.

I so appreciate you helping me go down a path to discover Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s work and for the path that your words took me, to help me become more aware of myself, who I am, and who I want to continue to be…(I) wish I could meet you and shake your hand. You touched my life and helped me a great deal. I will share your work and Anne’s with as many women who are willing to take the challenge to look inward and find a place of their own.”

The rest of the story is that we did indeed meet and have become good friends. Sue has been true to her word. She continues to tell the story of what Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea and my Gifts from the Spirit have meant to her, buys copies, and gives them out generously to her friends.

“Sue… is a woman with an exceptional ability to attract, lift up, and inspire just about everyone she meets.”

When I was in St. Louis recently she gathered about a dozen of them for dinner in a private room at a restaurant and invited me to share in a conversation about the discovery of my grandmother’s copy of Gift from the Sea that led to my own path of self-discovery as an author.

Through her conscious decision to make choices about where she puts her energy and who she allows into her life, Sue attracts like-minded friends. Her tremendous ease within herself enabled her to host the evening with poise and put all of us at our ease too.

Sue’s intention to fill her life with extraordinary women—genuine friends—has blossomed, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

A few weeks afterward, Sue’s friend Pam Lee pays it forward with her book group in Florida.

What is This Thing That is Presence and Yet Not Presence?

Not long ago when we moved my mother and had to break up the home she and my father shared for thirty years, the only St. Louis home my son ever knew, the hardest thing to let go of was my dad’s ancient workbench. This excerpt from Gifts from the Spirit: Reflections on the Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh is for all of us who have lost fathers this Father’s Day.

“My boy is so far away, even here [at her mother’s home]–until I went upstairs. As I walked into his room…everything came back. I looked at his toys, the rooster, the Swedish horse…the little blue stool, his cart of blocks…Then the bureau drawers–each one so full of him. Just the familiarity of my hand on the crib seemed to put him back there. What is this thing that is presence and yet not presence? I went down crying but more satisfied.”

HOUR OF GOLD, HOUR OF LEAD, pp. 257-258

Anne made this diary entry just eleven days after she learned that her infant son had been killed. Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. was stolen from his crib at the Lindbergh’s Hopewell, New Jersey, farmhouse in March of 1932. After two months of raised and dashed hopes for his safe return, the eighteen-month-old child’s body was discovered half-buried in a wooded area less than five miles from their home. He never lived beyond the night he was taken.

Six months pregnant with her second child, Anne was visiting her mother’s home, where she and her husband and child had lived while they waited for their own home to be built. They had not been back since baby Charlie’s death. Anne tiptoed upstairs and gently opened the door to her son’s room. She was flooded with more than memories: she felt his presence. The smell of the tin of Johnson’s baby powder, the little crushed blue jacket he wore over his sleeping suit when he came downstairs to play every night, his gray pussycat with the tail nearly off. In each of these things, she found her baby. She stole back downstairs in silent tears, but was comforted. He didn’t feel so far away.

“What is this thing that is presence and yet not presence?” Visiting my mother in St. Louis a few months after my fathers’ death, this question became real for me. I was there for our annual summertime sojourn, the first time I’d been home since his funeral the winter before. I lived in California now, and the geographical distance had buffered the realization that he was gone. Intellectually, I knew he was, of course. But, emotionally, it wasn’t entirely real; when you don’t see someone regularly you don’t meet the person’s absence as sharply as you do when you live nearby.

While I knew there would be a reckoning with this trip, it didn’t come right away or in any way I expected.

I didn’t apprehend the reality of his death in the places I thought I would. Not in his empty, dark blue, leather recliner, situated in the best possible location in the family room for TV viewing. This was the “dad” chair, reserved for him with unspoken understanding all the years I was growing up and into the present—except when his grandson came to visit. (My son was granted a special dispensation to park there for his morning cartoons.)

I didn’t find it either when I sat at the desk in his study. He’d sit there to read the paper while his grandson took over his armchair in the family room. Tipping back in his swivel chair, with drugstore reading glasses perched on the edge of his handsome nose, my father would peruse the St. Louis Post- Dispatch—even if it was that liberal paper that knocked the Globe-Democrat out of business.

I didn’t realize the fact of his death, either, in what would have been his empty place at the table. Just as his chair had the best view in the room for seeing the television, my father had the best view in the breakfast nook, the place he and my mother took their meals. At his place you could look out a bay window onto a pastoral scene where horses grazed in a field thatpage45image3675840touched their property. Now my mother moved my older brother, who was also visiting, into this spot. (If it sounds like the men in my family get preferential treatment, it’s because they do.) So even his absence at the dinner table didn’t strike me deeply.

That my father was permanently gone did not become real to me until several days into the visit, when I ventured downstairs into the basement. That’s where it hit me.

I slipped quietly down the carpeted basement stairs. Yes, carpeted. My father was the kind of man who not only carpeted his basement stairs, but also regularly vacuumed the concrete basement floor. Instinctively, I made my way over to his workbench.

My dad built his workbench when he and my mother bought their first house. They had moved twice since, and never left the workbench behind.

Standing in front of it now, I pictured it in the tiny laundry room it occupied when I was four, and then later in the larger laundry room in the house where I grew up. It was a permanent fixture in the life of our family. It was the place where things that needed to be repaired were piled, where shoes that needed shining were shined, where my father could often be seen hunched over, working his magic on some electrical gizmo (his favorite word of choice) that needed overhauling.

I grew up believing that my father could fix anything.

Years later, when my parents moved to the new house, he would take my son downstairs to the basement and let him tinker with him at his workbench. I can still see my preschool- age son perched atop a sturdy plastic drum of laundry detergent before scraps of discarded wood, drilling holes with the old manual drill that had belonged to his great-grandfather, and hammering nails with his grandfather’s tack hammer—right alongside his granddad. Some summers they would make special projects together. One year it was a birdhouse; another, it was a concrete-and-tile steppingstone for the garden.

Although I stood alone at that moment with my memories rushing at me, I was surrounded by my father’s presence. He was there.

There, in the stained, scuffed surface of his workbench where he had polished shoes, built Pinewood Derby cars, repaired lamps, painted furniture, framed pictures, fixed the cord on my mother’s iron, and completed innumerable other tasks that kept the surface of our lives functioning smoothly. And each tool, hanging in its spot on the pegboard of his workbench just where he’d left it, was full of him.

I was overwhelmed by his presence. And I knew, for the first time, that he was gone. The reality that I hadn’t been able to access before came now. And along with the tears that came from deep inside my body came the knowledge of what he had meant to me.

My father was a man who wasn’t comfortable with his feelings and didn’t share them easily, and so he showed that he cared in practical ways. Building, repairing, improving, fixing–he loved to do all of these things and we received the benefits. Here was a man who showed care through his handiness. He was able to love through doing the thing he loved. My loss became real that summer day because in my father’s workbench I found his essence.

“What is this thing that is presence and yet not presence?” Anne asked. It may be this: We inhabit the things we love and, even in death, if we have loved we leave some of ourselves behind.

“When one finds a person who has the same thought as yours…”

When one finds a person who has the same thought as yours you cry out for joy, you go and shake him by the hand. Your heart leaps as though you were walking in a street in a foreign land and you heard your own language spoken, or your name in a room full of strangers.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh: WAR WITHIN AND WITHOUT, p. 33

A picture of a young Anne Morrow Lindbergh sits on my desk. I clipped it from a second-hand bookstore copy of Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead and put it in a brass frame that once belonged to my grandmother. The picture of Anne’s sad face, photographed shortly after the kidnappingand murder of her baby boy, has been a companion for years. It sat on my desk when I lived in Princeton, New Jersey, and it is here on my desk in Southern California, where I live now, right next to a photograph of my grandmother.

It was my grandmother’s copy of Gift from the Sea that introduced me to Anne Morrow Lindbergh. This first edition teal-and-white volume rested untouched on a bookshelf at my parents’ home for years after my grandmother’s death when I was ten. During my teenage years I spent hours talking to my friends on the phone that hung on the wall next to this bookcase. I gazed at the binding of this book nearly every evening as I chatted, connecting to my friends, the world outside my family. Sometimes I even picked it up and looked at it, mildly curious about the woman married to the man for whom my high school was named. But I was not curious enough to read it. Not then anyway.

It wasn’t until my twenties–when I was home on vacation from graduate school at Princeton Seminary and preoccupied about my vocational future and a man in my life–that I pulled the book out to read. I was absorbed immediately. Maybe enchanted was more like it. It wasn’t just what she said–which spoke right to me–it was the way she said it. There was beauty in the way she used words. As I read on I was moved further.

Sparingly etched in blue ink throughout the book were underlines and an occasional exclamation mark: “The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong…” [i] and “Woman must be the pioneer in this turning inward for strength…” [ii] and “…women need solitude to find the true essence of themselves…” [iii]

The markings were in my grandmother’s handwriting. It had been more than twenty years since her eyes and hand had swept across these same pages, but at that moment I felt she was with me. Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s words became a bridge for me, linking me to this woman I had loved so much and lost.

Discovering who my grandmother was through Anne’s words was important to me because in some way that seemed to tell me more about who I was too. It was reassuring to know that the grandmother who had meant so much to me when I was small thought about her inner life. Maybe this was why I’d felt so connected to her as a child.

When you find a person who has the same thought as yours, you want to get to know her better. My grandmother was gone, but there was much more I would learn about Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

After reading Gift from the Sea, I searched for anything and everything I could find by or about her. Most of Anne’s books were available at the Princeton public library, fortunately; they were nearly impossible to own, though, because nearly everything but Gift from the Sea and her one book of poetry, The Unicorn, were out of print. I became well acquainted with second-hand bookstores, and occasionally was lucky enough to find one of her books. Then the man I married conducted an all-out nationwide search–in the days before the Internet existed, mind you–and, amazingly, unearthed every hardcover volume I didn’t already own, surprising me with them for a wedding present. My collection was complete.

The dearth of availability was a mystery to me. While Gift from the Sea continued to sell millions all over the world and had become an inspirational classic, what about the rest of her work? Why was it out of print? And why was practically nothing written about her?

I discovered Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s work when I was a seminary student, struggling to learn more about the meaning of life and God–and myself. Privileged to be attending one of the best theological schools in the country, I studied with professors who were world-renowned and read widely in fields as diverse as psychology, philosophy, education, theology, Biblical studies, women’s studies, and history. But what I kept coming back to, what I really wanted to read, was more of Anne. Her work touched not only my mind, but my heart, too.

I was fascinated by the life she led. As a major twentieth-century figure married to an American icon, she was both a player in and witness to some of the most important historical events of her time. But what was even more remarkable than that, to me, was her inner life. Here was a woman who, in the eyes of the outside world, seemed to have it all. Raised with all the advantages her wealthy parents could give her, Ivy League educated, married to the most popular man in the world, she was talented and successful in her own right and became a best-selling author. But this wasn’t the whole picture.f866fe37c963cf1e832e8e69a006cfe3

The rest of the picture–the picture that emerged as I read her published diaries and letters, is that of a woman who was alienated from herself, who struggled to understand herself, her relationships, and her place in the world. I saw a woman who had not arrived, but was on a journey–a journey toward self-awareness.

Anne’s body of literary work follows the same theme: The journey of spiritual awareness–of coming home to yourself. Whether it’s her poetry, her prose, or her personal writings in her diaries and letters, she takes her reader by the hand, and graciously, companionably, points the way: Take the inner road, she says. The answers are inside you. My Post-It note-marked, scribbled in, underlined, and highlighted five volumes of Anne’s diaries and letters are scattered here on my desk today, right alongside my pictures of Anne and my grandmother. Bring Me a Unicorn; Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead; Locked Rooms and Open Doors; The Flower and the Nettle; and War Within and Without. These dog-eared, slightly yellowed, tattered book jacketed copies were second- hand to begin with, but they are treasures to me nonetheless, for what they meant to me as a young woman who was on the threshold of self-discovery and what they mean to me still.

Coming across Anne in these books was like meeting someone who spoke the same language I did. Her reflections resonated deep inside me: Yes. I know just what you mean. When I read Anne’s diaries and letters I felt less alone. Here was someone who struggled with the same things I struggled with, who put into words things I felt but could not articulate, who reminded me of some knowledge dormant inside me: that the things I long for are already within me. And who, by her example, gave me courage to get on with my own inner journey.

And so I did, and I’d like to share some of it with you. The passages you will read from Anne’s diaries and letters are thoughts of hers that I’ve returned to again and again over the past twenty years. These are the reflections and observations that leapt out at me, that something inside me said yes to. I wasn’t always conscious of why these thoughts seemed so true during my earliest readings. But as the years have gone by and I have understood more about myself, I understand more about her, too. The truth that I apprehended only dimly as a young woman has become clearer with time and self-awareness.

And so I offer one woman’s take on Anne Morrow Lindbergh–who she was and what her legacy is. I hope that in my personal reflections on Anne’s life and words and wisdom, you too may hear your own language spoken. Or your name in a room full of strangers.

(Excerpt from Gifts from the Spirit: Reflections on the Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 2002, 2014, copyright Kim Jocelyn Dickson)

[i] Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea (New York: Pantheon, 1955) p. 29.
[ii] Ibid. p. 57.

[iii] Ibid. p. 50.