For this year’s A to Z Blog challenge, I thought I’d draw back the curtain and explore the life and times of a bibliophile. Care to join me?
Ah, Madeleine L’Engle. Probably THE heroine amongst my heroines. I cannot say that Madeleine L’Engle made me want to be a writer, but once the idea caught me, I knew she was the kind of writer I wanted to be. I love stories with depth and complexity, rife with metaphor and teeming with honesty. Madeleine L’Engle was the first author whose works made me think, and think hard.
I’ll be honest; there are others who have spoken far more eloquently about Madeleine L’Engle’s work and the ripples her words have left in their lives. All I can tell you is that her sentences shake me to my core, lift my heart to heaven, and leave me breathless, all at the same time. Some of my all-time favourite quotes are hers. You’ll have to go find your own favourites, otherwise I’d never get around to telling you about the books.
I won a copy of A Wrinkle in Time in 4th grade at, of all things, a Girl Scout Christmas party in Germany. I actually traded for it. I don’t really remember the circumstances, and I couldn’t tell you what I gave up to get it, but once I got my hands on Wrinkle, you couldn’t have pried it away from me with a jack hammer. I think it was my first exposure to anything resembling science fiction, and the first time I identified so strongly with a character. Meg Murray, glasses, mouse-brown hair smart but under-achieving – gad! She could have been my twin, except for the braces.
A Circle of Quiet is such a beautiful memoir of creativity, and quiet reflection. I love returning to it for no other reason than to revisit Crosswicks and walk amongst the trees again. But then she drops gems into the middle of the text like the reminder that joy “is always a promise” and I have to stop to catch my breath. If the setting itself weren’t enough to make me long for something I have never known, the treasures of wisdom and insight she drops into the lake of my awareness creates ripples that continue to shape and mold me, particularly as I try to grow into this craft.
One book I read once a year, whether I need it or not, is Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. What does it mean to be a Christian and also an artist? What is the relationship between faith and art? I have two copies, both well-marked and highlighted. In one portion of the book she muses on how Peter was able to walk on water until he paid more attention to the storm than to the fact that he had already walked part of the way towards Jesus. Her words still set my heart to pounding: “One day, I will remember how to walk on water.”
I fear I have not done justice to Madeleine L’Engle. I don’t have the vocabulary, or the time to describe the depth of her writing, the beauty of it, the joy in it. It has a lightness that belies sometimes heavy subjects. There is a whimsy, a kind of innocence that I just adore, and the stories. Everything about her is story. And so, I think I shall let the lady, herself, have the last word:
“Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos, we see despite all the chaos”