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 are some of my favorite quotes from her writings. Let me know which ones resonate with you.
When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable.
A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.
Time exists so that everything doesn't happen at once.
The unending paradox is that we do learn through pain.
If we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation.
A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.
If it can be verified, we don't need faith... Faith is for that which lies on the other side of reason. Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.
Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.
Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
Some things have to be believed to be seen.
Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.
When we lose our myths we lose our place in the universe.
I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.
The only way to cope with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly
Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist.
The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been.
Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.
Love of music, of sunsets and sea; a liking for the same kind of people; political opinions that are not radically divergent; a similar stance as we look at the stars and think of the marvelous strangeness of the universe - these are what build a marriage. And it is never to be taken for granted.
Believing takes practice.
We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.
I love, therefore I am vulnerable.
It's a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand.
The minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions.
Instead of rejoicing in this glorious "impossible" which gives meaning and dignity to our lives, we try to domesticate God, to make his mighty actions comprehensible to our finite minds.
Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.
Death is contagious; it is contracted the moment we are conceived.
I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their own validity no matter what.
We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.
But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.
Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.
It's hard to let go anything we love. We live in a world which teaches us to clutch. But when we clutch we're left with a fistful of ashes.
We think because we have words, not the other way around. The more words we have, the better able we are to think conceptually.
Truth is what is true, and it's not necessarily factual. Truth and fact are not the same thing. Truth does not contradict or deny facts, but it goes through and beyond facts. This is something that it is very difficult for some people to understand. Truth can be dangerous.
That's the way things come clear. All of a sudden. And then you realize how obvious they've been all along.
Creative scientists and saints expect revelation and do not fear it. Neither do children. But as we grow up and we are hurt, we learned not to trust.
We do learn and develop when we are exposed to those who are greater than we are. Perhaps this is the chief way we mature.
Basically there can be no categories such as 'religious' art and 'secular' art, because all true art is incarnational, and therefore 'religious.
But there is something about Time. The sun rises and sets. The stars swing slowly across the sky and fade. Clouds fill with rain and snow, empty themselves, and fill again. The moon is born, and dies, and is reborn. Around millions of clocks swing hour hands, and minute hands, and second hands. Around goes the continual circle of the notes of the scale. Around goes the circle of night and day, the circle of weeks forever revolving, and of months, and of years.
God understands that part of us which is more than what we think we are.
Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.
An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy.
We turn to stories and pictures and music because they show us who and what and why we are.
Darkness was and darkness was good. As with light. Light and Darkness dancing together, born together, born of each other, neither preceding, neither following, both fully being, in joyful rhythm.
I do not think that I will ever reach a stage when I will say, "This is what I believe. Finished." What I believe is alive ... and open to growth.
Love is the one surprise.
She seems to have had the ability to stand firmly on the rock of her past while living completely and unregretfully in the present.
It is possible to suffer and despair an entire lifetime and still not give up the art of laughter.
When I have something to say that I think will be too difficult for adults, I write it in a book for children. Children are excited by new ideas; they have not yet closed the doors and windows of their imaginations. Provided the story is good... nothing is too difficult for children.
Truth is eternal. Knowledge is changeable. It is disastrous to confuse them.
To be continued…
Let me know which of these speak to you.