Friday, September 7, 2007

L'Engle's gift of wonder

Madeleine L'Engle, a writer who brought magic to my childhood and depth to my adult spirituality, died Thursday at 88.

Her God-infused books -- including her most famous, "A Wrinkle in Time" -- opened my heart to wonder and my mind to intelligent wrestling with theology. Her passion for science complemented rather than contradicted her faith, making her a wonderful role model for a teenager who loved both.

I had the good fortune meet her in 1993 while attending a week-long conference she led at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and to interview her for the Viewpoint page. At one point we were talking about icons -- windows to God -- and whether stories could serve that purpose.

Q. Many people have found your stories to be icons. Do you set out to write them that way or does it just happen because of who you are and your relationship with God?

A. I listen. I have to listen to the angels. And sometimes they push me in places I don’t expect. My story line gets changed, characters come in. That’s part of the fun of it; it happens. I have a good idea where I want to go and what I want to say, because you have to start with something. And then things
happen, and that’s wonderful. I know I’m trying to serve God with the stories, and I’m trying to serve love. And I’m trying to help people be braver, to help myself be brave.

Only God knows if Madeleine L'Engle served God, but I feel certain that she served love. And I know without a doubt that she helped me be braver, especially about daring to peek into the immensity of the sacred.


Bev said...

Jane, I am very pleased that you are writing this blog. I am, however, very sad to see that Ms L'Engle has died. Our family has enjoyed many of her books over the years. Having just returned from Kanuga for the weekend, I can only imagine the wonderful time you must have had at the conference with Madeleine L'Engle. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

When I was in library school and took Young Adult Literature, I was surprised to find that there were many Christians who could not see that L'Engle was a Christian writer.

Many of them focused on the passage in "Wrinkle in Time" in which Calvin identified those on Earth who fight the Black Thing. Although he mentions Jesus first of all, he also suggests that Ghandi, Plato, and Buddha are also among those who push back the darkness; these "Christians" seem to think that suggesting that any non-Christian wisdom tradition has anything to recommend it means that one is not a Christian.

Anonymous said...

These books saved me when I was a young girl. They took me into a world of wonder and hope, when in actuality, my world at that time was so sad. The subtle inspiration lifted my spirit in a way, that I still remember so well. My heart was filled and the ability to dream was fostered. I did not have that ability before reading Ms. L'Engle's books. Now so many of my dreams have come true, and I attribute a lot of this to my childhood inspiration, and of course, to my Heavenly Father. I look forward to seeing her in the stars flying thru time, like Meg and Charles Wallace. God Bless her!

millsh88 said...

Thanks for reviving a forgotten memory. A time when the library was a magical place. The smell of books. And air conditioning (in the mid 60's, that was definitely a treat). "A Wrinkle in Time" was one of my favorite books. A book that deepened my sense of wonder and imagination and possibilities. That sense has remained with me throughout my life and has served me well. It's too bad that many young Christians miss out on these experiences because of narrow minded adults. If anything, these experiences have opened my mind to the mystery and wonder of God and the hope and possibilities of His creation.