Ink bottle, pen and notebook waited on the beach house desk, but for now Anne Morrow Lindbergh ambled along the Captiva shoreline looking for seashells to add to her collection. There, she spotted a little spiral shell. She rolled it in her hand and thought about the calm of this vacation by herself, the dizziness of her days back home, and what it would take “to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life…to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center.”
When she married world-famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, she jumped right into his world, this tiny woman taking on big adventure as co-pilot, studying stars and logging flight plans. But she was more than propellers and airplane smoke. Even as she pursued her husband’s dreams, she brought her own creative passion along for the ride. She wrote award-winning novels based on their exploration over the world’s air routes and lent her writing skills to her husband’s autobiography “The Spirit of St. Louis.” He dedicated the book: “To A.M.L. who will never realize how much of this book she has written.”
But there was a new passion on the horizon, one that wouldn’t fit in the cockpit. On Mrs. Lindbergh’s 24th birthday, she delivered Baby Lindbergh. Flights went on and she felt the gravity of leaving her little one behind. Gradually, she gave up the turbulence of the skies to put her feet on the ground as a fully-present mom.
She would forever cherish the fleeting moments with her firstborn. Her dream turned nightmare in 1932 when kidnappers stole her son from his nursery and killed him in a ransom deal gone bad. She grieved as privately as possible in the midst of media frenzy, and used the pen to work out her sadness on the pages of her journal. Welcoming five more children after that tragic loss, she did her best to remain open to life no matter what it may bring.
Motherhood wasn’t easy. She’d be the first to say so: “Is this then what happens to a woman? She wants perpetually to spill herself away. All her instinct as a woman–the eternal nourisher of children, of men, of society–demands that she give. Her time, her energy, her creativeness drain out into these channels if there is any chance, any leak.”
All the stains to scrub, casseroles to cook, floors to sweep, baths to give, budgets to balance, appointments to make, parties to plan, messages to write– these leave us feeling drained, unless we are giving purposefully and being refilled.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh went to Captiva Island not for the adventure of travel, but to find quiet renewal at the water’s edge. In solitude she held out her cup to be filled to overflowing.
“Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone,” she wrote, “The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray [and] women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.”
Mrs. Lindbergh went to the shore as a woman cluttered with life’s complications. She came home with a simple collection of shells and thoughtful words that became her famous memoir, Gift from the Sea. And so she took up a new passion, spurring women on to find creative pause, encouraging us to fill up so we can serve as we were “meant to in the eye of God.”
All quotes are from Gift from the Sea. For more on Anne Morrow Lindbergh, you’ll want to read:
What about you? How do you carve out time for renewal? What is it that fills your cup?
Darcy Wiley believes that every woman should carve out at least a few hours of her week to discover and follow her creative call, whether it be sketching landscapes, knitting baby blankets, tinkering on the piano, arranging a vase of flowers, writing poetry, cooking up a gourmet meal, or thrifting for a vintage blouse to pair with those favorite jeans. You can find her at Message in a Mason Jar where she writes about finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers. And you won’t want to miss her easy, breezy summer series all about Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. Follow her on Twitter @darcywileywords.