Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Have You Read Madeleine L'Engle?

When I was a young girl, The Jetsons were a popular cartoon. I hated the program though because I did not want to live in a world of fast things, silver clothes, and a button pushing life. I thought the year 2020 and beyond sounded ominous. Here I am headed towards that year and living in a world of things that go faster and faster every day. Ah, some of it is fine, but basically I think some of the Old Ways are still best.

When DH brought home the first computer, I hated it. I wailed at Doss prompt. I could not compute back splash, etc. If it wanted to stop, or go, or whatever, why not type in END or START? Seemed more logical to me. Gradually I made peace with some of it, although I was afraid of “talking” on lists or public pages. My one exception to this fear was a group of people that followed the writer Madeleine L’Engle. Here I met the most gracious and thoughtful new “friends”.

I would come home from work excited to read the news in the L’Engle world or in the lives of list members. One young person I worried about so much I came home during my lunch hour everyday for a week so I could keep tabs on her, hoping to hear her dark mood was lifting. These people followed Miss M as a writer, but also did a book club type discussion of her books. Their all time favorite was her young adult book, A Wrinkle in Time. I had tried Wrinkle and never could finish it. I tried again and still it was not a favorite of mine, but then I am not fond of science fiction or fantasy reading. While well known for her fantasy books, L’Engle was prolific in other genres such as poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and prayers as well.

But I loved L’Engle’s non-fiction books best and have read them all more than once. I have underlined and highlighted them much; each new color denotes a read in a different time of my life. Circle of Quiet, a memoir, was the first of her books I read. Reading about her challenges being a writer, wife and mother all at the same time appealed to me. Her open mindedness towards religion in books like A Stone for a Pillow (Jacob) and Sold into Egypt (Joseph) broadened my own beliefs. Young Adult fiction like Ring of Endless Light exposes meaning on life and death for readers of any age.

In one of my favorite books, Walking on Water, L’Engle writes about the relationship between art and faith. She also addresses our creativity and our business as artists. “To create a work of art, great or small, is work, hard work, requires discipline and order.” (L’Engle)

I met so many people online that I never saw face to face. I met a lovely quiet librarian in Canada, a teacher and writer in another part of Canada, a writer for a Mennonite publication in the Midwest, and many people scattered around the country and abroad. One, Ginny a teacher in Aztec, New Mexico, I managed to meet personally. When she learned we were to be in the Durango, Colorado area, she invited me to cross the border and visit Aztec. DH and I met Ginny in a tiny café for a delicious lunch and chat after visiting a cliff dwellers ruin in a National Park outside Aztec. We both learned our families were afraid of our “picking up” someone one line, but we both were glad we made the meeting.

L’Engle died about three years ago from old age, but her discussion group still keeps in touch once in a great while, usually when one needs prayers or support. Her books are not only still in print but some are being re-released. Also her granddaughter, Lena (who is mentioned in L’Engle’s own works) is keeping up the L Engle writing tradition with your own YA novel Edges coming out in the autumn. (Pre order at Amazon:

While L’Engle came of age during the 30’s, reared her family during the 50’s, was a award winning writing during the next several decades, she was a woman of faith, investigator of truth, and inspiration to all writers into the 21st century. Miss M would have had no problem accepting space travel, labor saving devices or leisure time. She probably would have loved the Jetsons because though they were modern, they remained people who were honest, truthful, and kind.

When the world is too much for me, L ‘Engle’s books are ones I pick up so I can return to an earlier time. If you missed her somewhere along the way, maybe you should seek out one of her books for a good read. Do a little time traveling of your own—backwards to simpler times with a great writer.


BECKY said...

How lovely, Claudia. I'm one of those poor souls who "missed her somewhere along the way". (I loved the way you said that!) I think I have so many books in my "to be read later" stack, I don't think I can add one more, or it (and my sanity) will topple! I promise...someday!
And that's funny about The Jetsons! As you probably remember that show was popular at the same time as The Flintstones! I loved both of them! Shouldn't we all be traveling in flying cars by the year 2010?? :D

Léna said...

Claudia, this is lovely! I am grateful that you are spreading the L'Engle love around. My Gran was so good at connecting people - and still is! xoxo Léna

Carla Gade said...

I want to pick up a copy of Walking on Water. She was a remarkable woman and an inspiration to many.


Tammy said...

Very nice post, and love the picture. Is that clematis 'Blue Light'?

Bookie said...

I don't know the name of the clematis. It is a friend's and has just been gorgeous this year. It was this large early in the season too. I hope it continues to do well through the monsoon season we are having now!