RIP Madeleine L’Engle, 29 Nov. 1918 – 6 Sept. 2007


One of my favourite writers died last night.

Publisher’s Weekly reported this morning: “Author Madeleine L’Engle died last night in Connecticut, at the age of 89 [actually, 88]. Best known for her 1963 Newbery Award winner A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, L’Engle was the author of more than 60 books for adults and young readers.(Update: The NYT finally has her obituary)

I liked A Wrinkle in Time and some of her other fiction, but what I love most is her Crosswicks journal trilogy, published during the 1970s. In these three books, she explores spirituality, creativity, relationships, faith.


To honor Madeleine L’Engle, some of her words:

“If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I’d never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said, by me. We each have to say it, to say it our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes out through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn’t what human creation is about.” A Circle of Quiet, p. 28

“When I start a new seminar, I tell my students that I will undoubtedly contradict myself, and that I will mean both things. But an acceptance of contradiction is no excuse for fuzzy thinking. We do have to use our minds as far as they will take us, yet acknowledging that they cannot take us all the way.” — A Circle of Quiet, p. 32

“Because the Holy Spirit is within us, because He can be known only subjectively, only, that is, by means of what I am, we shall never feel absolutely certain that it is in fact the Spirit who is working. This is the price that has to be paid for inspiration of every kind.” — A Circle of Quiet, p. 27/28

“This marvelous communal act — I wish I knew it more often in church, and that I were a less reluctant Christian.” The Irrational Season, p. 159

“I am not in love and charity with this man, I thought, and therefore, according to the rubrics, I should not go up to the altar. And yet I knew that my only hope of love and charity was to go forward and receive the elements.” — The Irrational Season, p. 118

“To make community misunderstood is a powerful weapon of the Destroyer — to promise permanence, to insist on perfection, to strangle freedom, so that instead of having community we have a concentration camp.”  The Irrational Season, p. 187

“We pin [God] down, far more painfully than he was nailed to the cross, so that he is rational and comprehensible and like us, and even more unreal. And that won’t do. That won’t get me through death and danger and pain, nor life and freedom and joy.” — The Irrational Season, p. 171

“If we commit ourselves ot 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.” — The Irrational Season, p. 47

No matter how many eons it takes, [God] will not rest until all of creation, including Satan, is reconciled to him, until there is no creature who cannot return his look of love with a joyful response of love.” — The Irrational Season, p. 97

“Righteousness begins to reveal itself as that strength which is so secure that it can show itself as gentleness … After the baptism, there was no question in Jesus’s mind as to who he was, and it was this self-knowledge which enabled him to see through the snares and delusions of the temptations. … It is only when I know myself as a child of God by adoption and grace, a child of a God so loving that he notes the fall of every sparrow, calls all of the stars in all of the galaxies by name, and counts the very hairs on every head, that I am free to accept all of myself, the dark and the bright, and so become free to hunger and thirst after righteousness.” — Summer of the Great-Grandmother, p. 76

“I look at Mother, and think that if I am to reflect on the eventual death of her body, of all bodies, in a way that is not destructive, I must never lose sight of those other deaths which precede the final, physical death, the deaths over which we have some freedom: the death of self-will, self-indulgence, self-deception, all those self-devices which, instead of making us more fully alive, make us less.” The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, p. 53

“[God] loved us enough to come to us, and we didn’t want him, and this incredible visit ended in total failure, and this failure gives me cause to question all failure, and all success.” — The Irrational Season, p. 27

(Hard to believe that A Wrinkle in Time is “one of the most banned books because of its treatment of the deity,” per the NYT article; it’s #12 of the ‘most banned books of the 1990s’)

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