Maggie's Reviews > One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
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's review
Apr 07, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: autobiobraphy-memoir, secular-inspirational
Read from April 06 to 07, 2011

well. it is a beautiful book. and practical spirituality is always a good part of life of which to be reminded. and the daily-thanksgiving-for-all-things is both an awesome part of life and a difficult remembering in any given moment of an uber-busy life. but sometimes me-thinks she does protest too much. it's almost a form of the old-time calvinist thought: prove you are saved ... try harder. *sigh* makes me glad to be rcc where i learned all these thoughts/ideas gradually and as i grew up and also knew that we are loved even when we fall short and when we finally remember and come back to faith/gratitude that too is good enough and we are embraced again and quietly recall that even when we were "away" we were still being embraced, unawares.

sometimes i think the author concentrated soooo much on this control issue of daily thanksgiving that i just sort of wished she go to a movie, chill, and laugh a bit. maybe she could take up running as a way to relieve that strong build up of tension that she seems to carry around everywhere with her and sometimes uses as a cudgel against herself or others (her poor son!). but that's me. by the end of the book (not finding fault with the theology or the daily examples) i concluded that my best recommendation would be: read it slowly. small small bits at a time. b/c it's worth remembering or hearing for the first time. it's just not urgent. there's time enough. so relax the concentration of the entire book by staying with it but little bits at a time. like take an entire week to read half a chapter. the (true) wisdom that is contained in this book might actually work better that way. joy isn't meant to be a burden. and it is freely-given. and there are reliable ways to have it visit (often). but pressuring yourself to "keep it up" just plain exhausts the spirit. or it did for this reader engaging with this book..

another thought: taking the sacramental life of every day and working it too hard with all those words deflates the joy in True Presence, imo. that's our loss. the ideas remain strong, reliable, true. just too many words clutter up this book. first error of a writer: being in love with her own voice. best advice: slash every third word. in this case, maybe every other word.

it could also be that the book is undercut by the sheer amount of self-focus. of course the book is all about her. but it wasn't until the end that i realized that paris -- a city FULL of music in various forms -- seemed to be playing just for her. uhmmmm. okay. and then i reflected back on all the words of her book as well as some of the more special experiences that she took the trouble to describe (the one with her son, the time with the homeless man, the moment of communion and feet washing with her women's group) and it came clear to me that those were exceptions to the roll of "her moments" and, sadly, i sensed that she sets herself apart from other people. then i recalled luke 18:9-14. she is special. and she goes out of her way to impress that upon us mere beggars at the table. *yikes*

the one thing that she may not have yet figured out might be best expressed using the words of blessed teresa of calcutta: we are all the same distance from God. [saints, hard-working (grasping for good things) christians trying to prove their worthiness, AND sinners. all He needs from us is our Yes. and we don't need to repeat it. just be patient with it.]

i suppose she needs 1000 (2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 ...) gifts of awareness. she certainly didn't get it with only three examples.
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