Sunday, September 16, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

As the Happy Catholic recently noted, Madeleine L'Engle passed away on September 6.

One of my favorite books is her touching and beautiful memoir, Two-Part Invention, which is the story of her marriage and of her grief after the death of her husband, who died of cancer in 1986.

When I was baptized in 1990, my best friend's mother gave me a copy of Two-Part Invention, inscribing it, "Welcome Home." Since that day, I've associated Madeleine L'Engle's faith and writing with my own faith.

May her soul rest in peace, and I'll leave you with a few of my favorite Madeleine L'Engle quotes:


"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."


"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."


"So the challenge I face with children is the redemption of adulthood. We must make it evident that maturity is the fulfillment of childhood and adolescence, not a diminishing; that it is an affirmation of life, not a denial, that it is entering fully into our essential selves. .... Youth are rebelling not against our morality and discipline but against our lack ... somehow, promises, as well as adulthood, must be redeemed."


"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 validity." ~~ A Circle of Quiet


"There is a gap of understanding between me and our friends and acquaintances. I can't quite understand a life without books and study and music and pictures and a driving passion. And they can't understand why I have to write, why I am a writer. When, for instance, I say to someone that I have to get home to work, the assumption is that I mean housecleaning or ironing, not writing a book ...." ~~ Two-Part Invention


"Bion [her son] said, 'But, Daddy, you don't understand!'

"To which Hugh replied, 'It's not that I don't understand. I just don't agree with you.'

"To which our son replied, "If you don't agree with me then you don't understand.'"


Danae said...

I am a big Madeleine L'Engle fan but I did not know about her death. I read A Wrinkle in Time more times than I could count as a kid and I have read most of her other books as an adult. What an amazing gift she was given!

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

I was given the same by my mother-in-law, an Episcopalian. I loved it, the genuine love, the intelligent observations, and a Catholic understanding of suffering. Thanks for this post.

Jennifer in TX said...

I just reserved Two-Part Invention at the library. I did not realize how truly devout an Episcopalian she was. Many of her books have been enjoyed by my oldest dd.

Liz said...

Both my daughter and I loved L'Engle's work. I didn't always agree with her, but she always made me think. She called Tom Howard's conversion to the Catholic Church an absurdity and she certainly came down on some topics (like abortion and gay relationships) in a manner that wasn't Catholic, yet she helped me understand things that no other contemporary writer did in the years of my thirties and forties. If she gave me nothing more than the quote from Julian of Norwich "And all shall be well" it would nearly have been enough, but she gave so much more. I only wish she'd lived to finish the Adam and Vicky saga.

Beck said...

I read "A Live Coal in the Sea" last weekend, and loved it. Now I'm going to go sign Two-Part Invention out of the library, too.