We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Sep 9, 2007

Madeleine L’Engle 1918-2007

I was going to write something different about eggplants and cooking them until they are nothing more than a sweet mass but the eggplants went bad. Then found out that Madelein L'Engle died on Thursday. She has been a writer that I have loved and looked up to for years.

I remember reading Wrinkle in Time on the floor of my summer camp's library. Not the first time but again when I was eighteen and a counselor. It was a rainy day off and there was nothing better to hide away in the library that was only used in the evenings. Over that summer I continued to re-read all of the O'Keefe and Murry family novels (think A Swiftly Tilting Planet or The Arm of a Starfish). It was the summer before college and I fell somewhere between child and adult the books were my escape.

Then a few years later a good friend gave me a copy of And Both Were Young commenting that Flip was me. It was the first time I had read a character that had spoken directly to me as a soul, and one of the few that ever has. I have read this book over and over again lending it out to people who want to understand me better. It probably one of her least known books but it will always be my favorite.

As a writer, and I have been making up stories since I could talk, she has been inspirational because of how she created an entire universe that was so magical and practical at the same time. One that was grounded in our world with a little Einstein, quantum physics, and mythology add to it. Like other loved books I marvel how she was able to write something that felt so personal to me yet was also loved by so many other people who I little in common.

Even now when I am dissuaded on adult fiction I drift back to her books as a respite in good writing. Don't just limit yourself to the children's books her adult ones are also wonderful. If there is a heaven like in the stories I am sure that god has reserved Madeleine's first century or so to discuss the inner workings of her world and the entire creation process.


Madeline said...

I didn't know she'd died. I loved her too as a child and have tried to get my kids to listen to A Wrinkle in Time on CD but they didn't want to finish it. I couldn't believe it! Maybe they will read it to themselves one day and get more out of it. It was HUGE for me. I like your blog. Congratulations on the move. You're in one of my favorite areas.

marye said...

Aww, I did not know she had died! Wow. I love her books. My 8 year old identifies with Charles Wallace and is reading the series voraciously.