One of my very favorite authors died today, Madeleine L'Engle. In its obituary posted today, The New York Times wrote: "Her works — poetry, plays, autobiography and books on prayer — were deeply, quixotically personal. But it was in her vivid children’s characters that readers most clearly glimpsed her passionate search for the questions that mattered most."
I knew this day would come eventually. She was 88 years old. But I kept hoping she would be around to write just one more, maybe two more books.
I first discovered her books when I was a young teenager. My mother had purchased a subscription for hard covered "classics" for me and my two sisters. A Wrinkle in Time was among these treasured books that I read and reread.
When I reached young adulthood I still found in Madeleine's adolescent novels ideas that stirred my heart and stories that helped me dream. As I grew older I began reading her adult novels, her journals and nonfiction articles. Never was I disappointed by her writing. There was always something for me to glean.
One of my favorite books has always been A Ring of Endless Light. In The Washington Post in 1980, Carol Van Strum wrote: “The cosmic battle between light and darkness, good and evil, love and indifference, personified in the mythic fantasies of the ‘Wrinkle in Time’ series, here is waged compellingly in its rightful place: within ourselves."
In Seminary, I convinced the Dean of the Chapel to supervise an independent study of L'Engle's works. As I reread books and journals, as I looked for more information about this woman, I came to understand more and more how her writing had impacted my faith. She is always so clear in asking the important questions, in admitting her own lack of answers, and in sharing the insights that she has found.
I regret that there will be no more new books from Madeleine L'Engle, but I thank God for her faithful witness, her creative inspiration and the joy that her gifts have given me.
“Why does anybody tell a story?” Ms. L’Engle once asked, even though she knew the answer.
“It does indeed have something to do with faith,” she said, “faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.”