The Wisdom of Mothers

alex atkins bookshelf booksWhen you hear the words National Geographic, what do you think of? If you are like most people, you instantly think of the scholarly journal with the iconic yellow border featuring stories about geography, history, nature, and archaeology, right? Well imagine my surprise when I was at an independent bookstore and picked up a copy of A Mother’s Book of Blessings: A Treasury of Wisdom for Life’s Greatest Moments by Natasha Tabori Fried that was featured on a table of “wisdom” books — a topic I feature often on this blog. Typically a book like this is published by Sterling, Chronicle Books, Random House, or Adams Media — but no, this small tome was published by National Geographic. It is a beautifully designed book, measuring only 6.75 by 6.75 inches, running 352 pages and filled with time-honored wisdom in the form of proverbs, parables, quotations, and short poems. These pearls of wisdom are organized into 12 themes: motherhood, new baby, mealtime, bedtime, birthdays, holidays, travel, nature, graduation, wedding, housewarming, and gratitude. In the introduction, Fried writes about the meaning and importance of blessings: “A blessing is like a wish, but a wish for some else. In the context of this book, blessings are wishes mothers offer their children throughout their lives, in moments big and small.” Here are some selected blessings:

Chinese proverb: One generation plants the trees / Another gets the shade.

e.e. cummings: You are my sun, my moon and all of my stars.

Native American blessing: When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced / Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.

J. M. Barrie: You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I will always love you, that’s where I will be waiting.

Rainer Maria Rilke: And now we welcome the new year; full of things that have never been.

C. S. Lewis: There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Henry David Thoreau: If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Confucius: Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

St. Ignatius of Loyola: Go forth and set the world on fire.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery: Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.

Arabic proverb: Gratitude takes three forms: A feeling in the heart, an expression in words, and a giving in return.

Native American Ten Commandments:

  1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
  2. Remain close to the Great (Creator) Spirit.
  3. Show great respect for your fellow beings.
  4. Work together for the benefit of all mankind.
  5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
  6. Do what you know to be right.
  7. Look after the well-being of mind and body.
  8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
  9. Be truthful and honest at all times.
  10. Take full responsibility for your actions

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

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