You’ve seen variations of the quote a dozen times on instagram.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
But have you read the whole book?
Written in 1992, Marianne Williamson’s first book, A Return to Love, is still as relevant as it was to readers 27 years ago. I picked up the classic title for a second time last January just days before news broke that Williamson would run for President of the United States. Re-reading A Return to Love, I remembered why I admire Marianne so much. Even today, she holds firm to the same principles: love, forgiveness, peace, self-correction—principles she believes are absent from the current public office, but that if put at the heart of policy could heal the gaping flaws in our consciousness, relationships, and society.
I agree with her. But this is a book review, not a political endorsement. Why does A Return to Love still hold up nearly three decades later? One, it’s beautifully written. Williamson is a gifted wordsmith, and passages like “You were created in a blinding flash of creativity, a primal thought when God extended Himself in love” don’t let us down.
Two, she skillfully translates the often complex principles of A Course in Miracles into language that makes sense. Returning to love simply means returning to God; love and God are interchangable. She provides contextual examples of how these principles of love, faith, and healing show up in daily life. From examining her own critical judgments in personal relationships to working with patients dying of AIDs, she reveals practices that allow the mind to let go of fear, of which self-hatred & guilt are symptoms, and instead remember “the light within us [that] is real.”
And no, A Return to Love is not just a long-form mantra awash with “light and love” to avoid worldly problems.
It’s psychology and spirituality. It’s mind meets form.
It’s a book I keep on my desk because even the red cover signals me to come back to my core.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Amanda McMullen is the founder of Polished Pear Creative Editing. And while she grew up on spy novels, poetry chapbooks, and existentialist literature, she now mostly reads non-fiction (self-help, memoir, spiritual texts). It might sound like a snooze fest, but give her a book that merges science with psychology, religion, and culture, and she will devour it like a flourless chocolate cake. Yes, even her food preferences are dry. Yet, Amanda savors rich writing—sentences thick with feeling, where meaning is not only grasped, it’s touched. Some of her favorite non-fiction authors are Diane Ackerman, Wayne Dyer, Elizabeth Gilbert, Laura June, Carl Sagan, Carl Jung, and Paramahansa Yogananda. Her favorite poet is Kim Addonizio. Her favorite writer, Amy Hempel.