In the Fullness of Time is a well-constructed anthology that harmonizes a myriad of voices. Editors Emily W. Upham and Linda Gravenson challenge thirty-two women, ages 55 to 101, to share parts of their life stories.
The contributors, including two playwrights, a biographer, poets, novelists, memoirists, essayists, a physician, a musician, and two actresses write about relationships, careers, and the inevitable current of change. The reader soon discovers that no two women respond to the fluidity of life in the same way. Furthermore, these individual responses to daily living create very unique and singular lives. Also, the writing styles vary from woman to woman, essay to essay. Some write with unabashed humor or using silly anecdotes, while others are serious and convey their heart’s deepest concerns.
For example, novelist Beth Powning suggests that “a new language [is] learned” through the art of living in her contribution. She lives on a farm and experiences dynamic natural cycles up close. She admits to being more aware of life’s ambiguities because she appreciates life as a process. Ms. Powning questions whether that which was once living ever completely dies, r are past losses a necessary fertile ground for present opportunities and future aspirations?
Similarly, Christiane Northrup, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist, uses her voice to offer another insight. While admitting life comes with no guarantees, she observes, “pain is inevitable but suffering and misery are optional.” She explains her philosophy by recounting a memory as a medical student: immersed in endless study, she continued to passionately play the harp, because her parents always stressed balance of body, mind, and spirit. Dr. Northrup aligns this belief to her practice of medicine as well. She treats pain and disease as rooted within the whole person. Therefore, she invites her patients to become acquainted with the whole body concept of inner balance for healing. Within this mindset, western medicine and eastern holistic practices co-exist.
Another authentic voice, that of writer Gretchen Haight, invites readers to “breathe the freshness of uncertainty and hope.” She explains that in order to resonate our own personal truth outside of ourselves, we first need to grasp it internally. By questioning and understanding our choices and behavior, we empower our future possibilities. That means examining those things which didn’t turn out as we had planned—our failures. Ms. Haight acknowledges that our society likes to sweep so-called mistakes under the rug. But to be truly authentic and free, we must celebrate our losses as stepping stones to success.
Each author uniquely presents her story of fulfillment and surrender. The individual voices of In the Fullness of Time blend together, rejoicing the resilience of life.