Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Goodness has never been a guarantee of safety," and more Madelein L'Engle quotes (Part 2)

Madelein L’Engle (1918-2007) authored over 40 books, including A Wrinkle In Time and all of its sequels.  I still recall my 3rd grade teacher reading those to us, and being mesmerized by the way they stimulated my imagination.  Her writing reflected her deep Christian faith, a love of science, and a curiosity to ask many questions. I was privileged to hear her give the Commencement Address to my graduating class at Wheaton College in 1977.  Here is Part 2 of my favorite quotes from her writings.  Let me know which ones resonate with you.

Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

The growth of love is not a straight line, but a series of hills and valleys.

Anger is not bitterness. Bitterness can go on eating at a man's heart and mind forever. Anger spends itself in its own time.

The world of science lives fairly comfortably with paradox. We know that light is a wave, and also that light is a particle. The discoveries made in the infinitely small world of particle physics indicate randomness and chance, and I do not find it any more difficult to live with the paradox of a universe of randomness and chance and a universe of pattern and purpose than I do with light as a wave and light as a particle. Living with contradiction is nothing new to the human being.

Like it or not, we either add to the darkness of indifference and out-and-out evil which surrounds us or we light a candle to see by.

And there's no getting around the fact that all life lives at the expense of another life.

You and I have good enough minds to know how very limited and finite they really are. The naked intellect is an extraordinarily inaccurate instrument.

There is in God, some say, a deep but dazzling darkness.

It was the same way with silence. This was more than silence. A deaf person can feel vibrations. Here there was nothing to feel.

We have much to be judged on when he comes, slums and battlefields and insane asylums, but these are the symptoms of our illness and the result of our failures in love.

Goodness has never been a guarantee of safety.

One of the most pusillanimous things we of the female sex have done throughout the centuries is to have allowed the male sex to assume that mankind is masculine. It is not. It takes both male and female to make the image of God. The proper understanding of mankind is that it is only a poor, broken thing if either male or female is excluded.

The joys of love...last only a moment. The sorrows of love last all the life long.

My dear, I'm seldom sure of anything. Life at best is a precarious business, and we aren't told that difficult or painful things won't happen, just that it matters. It matters not just to us but to the entire universe.

God promised to make you free. He never promised to make you independent.

Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith. Faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.

If you're too happy about anything, fate usually gives you a good sock in the jaw and knocks you down.

I am not some kind of computer. Only machines have glib answers for everything.

The peculiar idea that bigger is better has been around for at least as long as I have, and it's always bothered me. There is within it the implication that it is more difficult for God to care about a gnat than about a galaxy. Creation is just as visible in a grain of sand as in a skyful of stars. The church is not immune from the bigger-is-better heresy. One woman told of going to a meeting where only a handful of people turned out, and these faithful few were scolded by the visiting preacher for the sparseness of the congregation. And she said indignantly, 'Our Lord said *feed* my sheep, not count them!' I often feel that I'm being counted, rather than fed, and so I am hungry.
No! Alike and equal are not the same thing at all!”

If we don't pray according to the needs of the heart, we repress our deepest longings. Our prayers may not be rational, and we may be quite aware of that, but if we repress our needs, then those unsaid prayers will fester.

You're going to get hurt yourself, and badly, if you take everything so hard.

She began to feel the sense of wonderful elation that always came to her when beauty took hold of her and made her forget her fears.

Love isn't how you feel. It's what you do.

Two people whose opinion I respect told me that the word "Christian" would turn people off. This certainly says something about the state of Christianity today. I wouldn't mind if to be a Christian were accepted as being the dangerous thing which it is; I wouldn't mind if, when a group of Christians meet for bread and wine, we might well be interrupted and jailed for subversive activities; I wouldn't mind if, once again, we were being thrown to the lions. I do mind, desperately, that the word "Christian" means for so many people smugness, and piosity, and holier-than-thouness. Who today can recognize a Christian because of "how those Christians love one another"?”

It does not matter that we cannot fathom this mystery. The only real problem comes when we think that we have.

If we accept that we have at least an iota of free will, we cannot throw it back the moment things go wrong. Like a human parent, God will help us when we ask for help, but in a way that will make us more mature, more real, not in a way that will diminish us.

You cannot see the past that did not happen any more than you can foresee the future.

But grief still has to be worked through. It is like walking through water. Sometimes there are little waves lapping about my feet. Sometimes there is an enormous breaker that knocks me down. Sometimes there is a sudden and fierce squall. But I know that many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.

Compassion is nothing one feels with the intellect alone. Compassion is particular; it is never general.

Life is not easy and comfortable, with nothing ever going wrong as long as you buy the right product. It's not true that if you have the right insurance everything is going to be fine. That's not what it's really like. Terrible things happen. And those are the things we learn from.

We human beings grow through our failures, not our virtues.

No wonder our youth is confused and in pain; they long for God, for the transcendent, and they are offered, far too often, either piosity or sociology, neither of which meets their needs, and they are introduced to churches which have become buildings that are a safe place to go to escape the awful demands of God.

Alas. What have we done to our good, bawdy, Anglo-Saxon four-letter words? ...We have blunted them so with overuse that they no longer have any real meaning for us. ...When will we be able to redeem our shock words? They have been turned to marshmallows. ...We no longer have anything to cry in time of crisis. 'Help!' we bleat. And no one hears us. 'Help' is another of those four-letter words that don't mean anything any more.

How do I make more than a fumbling attempt to explain that faith is not legislated, that it is not a small box which works twenty-four hours a day? If I 'believe' for two minutes once every month or so, I'm doing well.


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