One Thousand Gifts is proof that even people who work for Hallmark can write good poetry. Ann Voskamp's book has paragraphs and isn't metrical, but her command of the language is closer to singing than mere prose. Her fundamental question, How do we live fully so we are fully ready to die?, leads her to reflect on her own life, God's promises, and the meaning of contentment and gratitude.
Her song ranges freely between funeral dirge and generous hymn, between thoughts on her baby sister's death to awe at the moon, the stars, the entire cosmos. She's had her share of trouble (death, cancer, frustration), but her desire for God's grace (and acceptance of it in every form it appears) lead her not to despair but to humble thanksgiving.
Women will probably appreciate Voskamp's perspective more than men, but this book is for everybody. Life is not merely a disaster to which God abandons us—it is His gift to us, His love song to us, His blessing. Learning to recognize and enjoy that blessing is one of our principle tasks as people, a task to which we are specially suited as followers of Jesus Christ.
In One Thousand Gifts, theology and life and poetry are found all together, just as we encounter them every day. Voskamp dispenses wisdom almost carelessly, as when she says, The humble live surprised. The humble live by joy., as though everyone knew that and could articulate the thought in exactly the same way. But we can't all articulate such simple profundities just so, which is why we need books like this.
There are few moments when this book is anything less than visceral, concrete. Blood and the Eucharistic elements are as frequently described as birds and sunshine and rain. We are shown the beauty and the grace around us rather than just told that it is there. It's like a nature walk or a sightseeing tour of God's goodness, a thing altogether perfect in itself and worth every second of our attention.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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