Angel Letters

angel letters

Angel Letters
Ballentine Books, 1991
After writing and publishing her book, A Book of Angels, hundreds of people wrote to the author telling their own angel stories. Those stories are compiled into this book, Angel Letters. “These experiences of healing, rescue, warning, and comfort, of angelic blessings seen and unseen, will bring solace, wonder, laughter, and inspiration to anyone who welcomes a little angelic intervention in everyday life.” (From the dust jacket, inside flap.)
The stories in this little book are really inspirational. Sometimes in this crazy world we need to be reminded that we are Loved and Looked After.  Here’s a story shared by the author – 
“I remember once I was in the desert without a hat. The sun beat down unmercifully. I thought, “I ought to have a hat; I’m going to get sunstroke.” And four hundred paces ahead, behind a rock, was a battered, torn straw hat. I clapped it on my head. This was before I understood that something—angels, a spiritual cavalry—is watching over us, waiting to be of help. And not to me alone but to all of us and all the time.  I took it as a lucky accident, that hat.”
As I read these stories, my skin rippled with goose pimples and I was truly amazed at some of them (one of my favorites was the elderly man on the side of the road that stopped a car from plowing head-on into a herd of deer in the dead of night. However, even as deeply as I believe in angels and the Presence of the Divine in my life – some of the stories were a little more difficult for me to believe – but then I realized, I don’t have to believe them. They weren’t my angels; those messages weren’t meant for me.
If you believe in angels – or even if you don’t – I hope you’ll find this book to be inspiring, or at the very least, thought provoking.
Rating:  4 paws
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack

Gift from the Sea

Gift_from_the_sea_by_anne_morrow_liGift from the Sea
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Pantheon Books, 1997, 1955
From the back of the book, “A modern-day classic here are Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s elegant and wise meditations on youth and age, love and marriage, solitude, peace, and contentment, as she set the down during a brief vacation by the ocean. She helps us see ways to reconcile our most deeply personal needs with obligations to family, friends, lovers, and work, ways to separate loneliness from replenishing solitude, and ways to find solace in the simplest of daily tasks. Now more than ever, Gift from the Sea serves as a spiritual compass guiding us toward inner tranquility in the face of life’s deeper questions.”
I loved this book. It is going on my wish list to add to my library. There is so much nourishment contained within its pages that it deserves – no, demands – to be read once a year. This one reading only scratched the surface if the treasure within. I read it slowly – had to renew it once at the library – as to savor the words and lessons. And there are lessons to be learned and applied to my life. Lessons that are just as meaningful today as the time in which they were originally written.  First published in 1955, her insight into the world and its foibles is just as apropos today as it was then. This quote is timely despite its age:
The inter-relatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold.  Or rather—for I believe the heart is infinite—modern communications loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry. It is good, I think, for our hearts, our minds, our imaginations to be stretched; but body, nerve, endurance and life-span are not as elastic. My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds. I cannot marry all of them, or bear them all as children, or care for them all as I would my parents in illness or old age. Our grandmothers, and even—with some scrambling—our mothers, lived in a circle small enough to let them implement in action most of the impulses of their hearts and minds. We were brought up in a tradition that has now become impossible, for we have extended our circle throughout space and time.
I love the way the author writes – it is quiet, lyrical, and soothing. Like a cup of cool water on a hot day or a mug of hot chocolate on a cold night.
“The sea does no reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”
Rating:  5 paws
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack
220px-CharlesLindbergh22 Of interest: Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles Lindbergh, of flying solo across the Atlantic fame and mother of  the infamous kidnapping and subsequent murder of her son, Charles Lindbergh, Jr.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book

goldneEverything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book
Golden Books, Random House, 2013
          From the forward by the author: “Dear Reader, If you are like most Americans, you grew up with Little Golden Books. … We at Golden Books think there’s a good chance that many of us learned pretty much everything that really matters about life from what we read between those sturdy, gilt-bound cardboard covers. … Our country has faced some hard times of late, and we’ve been forced to look at ourselves and how we’re living our lives. …Maybe this book can help you! After all, Little Golden Books were first published during the dark days of World War II, and they’ve been comforting people during trying times ever since – while gently teaching us a thing or two.”
          What a sweet book!  It is compilation of many illustrations from many different Little Golden Books and recaptioned to gently remind the reader to enjoy life. I loved it – but then I love those little books. Many of the illustrations were familiar to me and it was good to see favorite artists again (Eloise Wilkin, Gustaf Tenggren). But I also ran across some books that were new to me, ones that I’d like to read even all these years later!  It’s a great book to give a friend  – or even yourself – when they’re feeling like life has run them over. We love this book very much and although the copy we read is a library book, we wouldn’t mind having a copy for ourselves!!
4 pawsRating 4 out of 5 paws
simon 2 locReviewer: Simon

Romancing the Ordinary

loc romancing the ordinary 0807Romancing the Ordinary
A Year of Simple Splendor
Sarah Ban Breathnach
The Simple Abundance Press, an Imprint of Scribner, 2002
          From the back cover: “…author Sarah Ban Breathnach takes readers to a new level of personal fulfillment and spiritual awareness as they learn to rediscover and savor the sensual experience of daily life. . . . Organized as a saunter through the year, Romancing the Ordinary celebrates the spirituality of the senses, seasonally and monthly. . . . encouraging [women] to delight in the often overlooked gifts of every day—from the aroma of simmering homemade spaghetti sauce to the sensation of freshly laundered linen against the bare skin. . ..”
          This book offers a reading for each day of the year – and like many other books of its type the writings are grouped together by month. She includes seasonal poems, rituals, and ideas for learning to become aware of who the reader truly is. The author focuses on the here and now, the physical plane of existence, and only touches on the spiritual. Ms Breathnach’s writing style is effortless and beautiful, which really reflects all the love and devotion she put into writing it. She borrows liberally from other writer’s thoughts, including insightful quotes from obscure sources; because of those quotes or mentions in the meditations, I have read several other books on spirituality.
          I picked up this copy up at a thrift store based solely on the author’s name – I’ve read her spiritual writings before and they have always brought a great deal of inspiration. But because I have little time to read I always want to make the most of what I do read.  Unfortunately this book didn’t live up to my expectations or needs. My spirit craves inspirational writings and my spirit was not satisfied with this book. I guess because I’ve read the author’s Simple Abundance three times, I expected to find more spiritual nourishment – but at the end I find I am just as hungry (spiritually) as I was when I started it. That’s not necessarily the author’s fault. Maybe I’m not in the emotional place to indulge in the sensual pleasures of a physical existence. Maybe in another lifetime I was a cloistered monk and find catering to physical/sensual desires a bit too self-indulgent and self-absorbing. Maybe that’s the point of the book. Maybe it’s just simply not the book for me. I can only provide my feelings toward the book and I do not come away anywhere near feeling satisfied or better for having read it.
2 pawsRating: Were I rating based solely on the content, the writing style, and the author’s knowledge of her subject, it would rate out as a 4 out of 5 paws. But because this rating system is entirely personal and subjective, I have no choice but to rate it a 2 out of 5 paws. But don’t let that deter you from reading it. You may well enjoy it!!
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge, 2016!
Topic: Read a Romance (this is stretching the topic a bit because we don’t read romances and after all, this book is about romancing yourself!)
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A Wrinkle in Time

wrinkle 0803A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L’Engle
Crosswicks, Ltd, 1962, 1997
From the back cover: “A Wrinkle in Time, the first of Madeleine L’Engle’s books to featue the Murry family and their cosmic battle against a great evil that abhors individuality, won the Newberry Medal in 1963. It is the story of the adventures of Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe, as they search through time and space for Meg and Charles Wallace’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in top secret government work concerning “tesseracts,” or wrinkles in time.”
This is one of those books that I had read before I saw the movie. It is so beautifully written and described that when I was trying to imagine what the author was seeing, I kept coming back to the movie instead (which was just okay). Here’s a rather long description/quote from the book after the children have traveled with Mrs Whatsit across time and space to find their dad.
“Outwardly Mrs Whatsit was surely no longer a Mrs Whatsit. She was a marble-white body with powerful flanks, something like a horse but at the same time completely unlike a horse for from the magnificantly modeled back sprang a nobly formed torso, arms and a head resembling a man’s, but a man with a perfection of dignity and virture, an exaltation of joy such as Meg had ever seen. No, she thought, it’s not like a Greek centaur. Not in the least.
“From the shoulders slowly a pair of wings unfolded, wings made of rainbows, of light upon water, of poetry.”  And one more quote with the transformed Mrs Whatsit speaking for the first time in a “…rich voice with the warmth of a woodwind, the clarity of a trumpet, the mystery of an English horn.”
Aren’t these beautifully written descriptions of something you’ve never seen or heard? This type of lyrical writing reminds me very much of Ray Bradbury. Last summer we read a whole bunch of his books and fell in love with his writing. Any way, back to this book. . . .
The story itself is well done, well thought out and kept me engaged for the 4 or  5 hours it took me to read it. The book ended rather suddenly and I was a bit let down – but not much. Through the journey the children learn various lessons that prove to be most helpful. Charles Wallace, age 5, is a incredibly smart and wise for being so young; his lesson is about pride. Meg, age 14, is smart with mathematics but not much else (she thinks). Since her father’s prolonged absence she become embittered and seething with anger; her lesson is forgiveness. Calvin, age 15, new friend of Charles Wallace and Meg’s, learns to reach inside himself in order to reach out to others.
There is a spiritual tone to the book and although God is not mentioned directly, the most direct message of the book is that Evil, or that which robs mankind of its essential spirit, must be defeated by the greater Good, which encourages growth, beauty and Love.
There are sequels to this book, which I may or may not read. Even though I enjoyed the story, it didn’t leave me craving for more. Regardless, the author’s ability to describe the unknown and indescribable is a talent worth checking out in the future.
4 pawsRating: 4 out of 5 paws
0807bReviewer: PeggySue
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge, 2016
Topic: Read an Award Winning Book
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