Sep 7, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle died yesterday

She was probably my most favorite author. It would be impossible to describe her influence on me during my formative years. In the sixth grade, I read A Wrinkle in Time, and liked it enough that I read its sequels, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Then I forgot about them.

Years later, I think when I was a freshman or sophomore in college, I discovered a nonfiction book she had written called Walking on Water. It made me want to be a writer, but more importantly, it set me on a spiritual journey that I continue to this day. In fact, I picked up many more of Madeleine L'Engle's books, both fiction and nonfiction. I re-read Wrinkle, Door and Planet. I discovered three of my all-time favorite books, Many Waters, in which the Murray twins travel back to the time of Noah's ark, A Ring of Endless Light, which continues the story of the Austin family, and An Acceptable Time, featuring Meg Murray and Calvin O'Keefe's oldest child, Polly. I bought my first set of The Crosswicks Trilogy. I took it with me when I spent a semester abroad during junior year of college, and gave it to a new friend from Australia who loved Madeleine as much as I did. I promptly bought a new set when I arrived home, of course. I generally didn't enjoy her fiction for adults or her poetry very much (A Severed Wasp and The Other Side of the Sun were exceptions), but at one point, I owned almost all of her nonfiction and children's books. Having de-cluttered my possessions, I kept only my favorites, but even those number over a dozen.

The Crosswicks Trilogy, with its emphasis on Christianity, particularly in the last book, The Irrational Season, really got me thinking about God and Christ. I read most of Madeleine's other books about faith. I am not, to this day, particularly devout, but my faith is strong, and that is because of the foundation that was laid in my college years thanks to Madeleine's books.

Love, of course, is related to faith, and she taught me much about love as well. Her book about her marriage to actor Hugh Franklin, written while he was dying of cancer, always makes me cry. But I like to think that they're together now, and catching up on the 20 years that passed between their deaths.

Obituaries:Note: Her web site makes no mention of her death yet. Wheaton College, which houses a collection of Madeleine's papers, states, "Madeleine L’Engle died on September 6, 2007. In her life and writing, the artist who postulates so eloquently about space, time and love has achieved timelessness."

I apologize for the awkward spacing. Extra spaces appear after Amazon text links and I have no idea how to remove them. If anyone can help me with that, I'd be most appreciative!


Mrs. Micah said...

Oh no!

I read Irrational Season last year and it meant a lot to me. I'd been thinking of writing her a letter about that. Too late, I suppose.

There's always the hereafter...

ChiefFamilyOfficer said...

For what it's worth, I did write to her once about 10 years ago and got a pretty perfunctory response - the kind that made me think she wasn't answering her own mail. I know from her writing that she loved getting letters like that but I think she got too many to read herself and also just didn't have the mental capacity for all that in the last 10 years or so.