At a time when I pictured myself soaking up the sun, chugging diet Coke from a can (or better: sipping Gewurztraminer from a stemmed glass) and reading absolute rubbish, no one is more surprised than me, to find I have a basket of non-fiction books by my bedside.
Call it karma, but several creative, real life stories have beckoned and I have joyously heeded their call. While the Ladies on Literature break for the season, I promised recipes and commentaries on People magazine, but it seems I’m going deeper…deeper into the realm of the real. Ironically, maybe because I’ve vowed to take the time to read leisurely literature, I’ve relaxed and I find myself feeling rather introspective, wanting to dig down a little. In an effort to just be (how’s that for an oxymoron?) I’ve picked up one of my favorites books, which seems to have set me on a course of self-exploration.
Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach has been one of the most influential tools I’ve ever owned. While I confess a collection of self-help and spiritual literature lines my bookshelf, Ban Breathnach’s book maintains its place of honor in my bedside table. This is because the book is easy-and incredibly beautiful-to read. Her writing is so lovely and the daily readings short but significant. I happily embrace her concept of moving through the seasons, practicing the six threads of abundant living beginning with gratitude, which gives way to simplicity, which brings order, then harmony and beauty, which leads to joy.
A woman after my own heart, Ban Breathnach’s belief a reverence for beauty and a quest for balance are kindred sisters, makes me smile…every single time. No matter how many times I’ve read this book…some years more than others…it never fails to reset my compass for compassion, glee, and gratitude. Because in the end, her message is to find something…anything…in our daily round for which we can bring our hands together in praise. Encouraging readers to begin a “Gratitude Journal”, Ban Breathnach has inspired millions of women to find and follow their bliss, even through the blah-blah that is the carpool, dirty dishes, bill paying portions of our day to day.
I took a steaming cup of hot coffee and the book out onto my deck about a month ago. This, following a formidable June, when the rain seeped from the summer sky just as the tears flowed from my family’s eyes. My husband’s father, Francois, had suffered a major heart attack and after two weeks in the ICU, peacefully passed away, Paul and his mom by his side. Determined to find some light in the darkness that had descended upon our days, I began to read Ban Breathnach again, and sure enough, some sun broke through the scattering of clouds as I concluded, this summer I would seek peace and harmony.
Flipping the book over, I re-read the back cover, noting homage is paid to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author of “Gift from the Sea” among other collections. Suddenly, I remembered searching for–and eventually finding–the book in a used bookstore. Rushing to my other basket of books (I have a few), I dug out my sea-green copy of that lovely little book and began to read it, for the first time… loving every lovely word. Written in 1955 but relevant to this day, Gift from the Sea is a collection of the author’s musings on marriage, motherhood, youth and age, peace, solitude and contentment as she relishes a beach vacation all by herself. As the tide comes and goes, so this book flows, beautifully, soothingly…so much faster than you want it to…it’s a perfect summer read.
Join me as I make my way through this tiny treasure.