on L’Engle & kindred hearts (a book review, of sorts)

This week's L'Engle goodness.
This week’s L’Engle goodness.

Sometimes there are books that grab the core of your mind and heart, holding on to you for dear life, its pages a living, breathing organism.  You read the weighty, thought-through words and the perfectly crafted phrases and the well-placed sentences, and you think, I wanna write like that.  

You wonder if every reader feels the kinship you do with this particular author, and like your favorite underground Indie band, it’s a love-hate relationship: you hope that the world discovers the goodness that is Madeleine, but in a weird, Hoarders sort of way, you also fear the same deep connection.  Because you just kind of want her for yourself, you want to call this kindred spirit your own.

Ugh.

But today I choose to share.

It’s the summer of Madeleine L’Engle – all the books I listed last week as potential summer reads?  Emphasis: potential.  I just finished Walking on Water a few nights ago, and am diving into A Circle of Quiet now.  To be honest, I’m not sure if I ever actually read A Wrinkle in Time as a child – although I’m sure I did, since playing Library* was one of my favorite games.  I’d take all the books off the shelves, adorning the family room couch, the coffee table, Dad’s recliner and the kitchen table with my finds.  And then I’d welcome my siblings and Angie the teddy bear and any other imaginary well-wishers into the Cara Public Library, helping them find their perfect literary find.

I mean, you did the same at eight, right?

So let’s play Library: let me help you, for just a few more minutes, fall in love with this book.

Since I’m entering into the world of writing, more than a few friends recommended Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.  L’Engle is, perhaps, best known as a children’s author – but she’s a sage storyteller, and as a Christian, her writing magically weaves together a beautiful fabric of life and love and faith and humor and wisdom.  And although she sometimes cringes when “Christian” and “writer” are paired together for what it does – and doesn’t – represent in or about her writing, she also recognizes the unique, holy intersection present in the act of creating.  Because, “…creativity is a way of living life, no matter what our vocation or how we earn our living,” and because “All of life is story, story unravelling and revealing meaning.”  Yes and yes.

How then are you creating?

What’s story is being told in you and through you?

I’ll leave you with this: for myself, as a Christian and as a writer, I want to reach a varied audience.  But I don’t want my niche necessarily defined as Christian writer, because I want to reach a varied audience, and because sometimes Jesus is most clearly, powerfully proclaimed when he’s not.  Of that idea, L’Engle says this to a young, aspiring Christian novelist:

“…if she is truly and deeply a Christian, what she writes is going to be Christian, whether she mentions Jesus or not.  And if she is not, in the most profound sense, Christian, then what she writes is not going to be Christian, no matter how many times she invokes the name of the Lord.”

Cat’s out of the bag – but oh, oh, I am grateful to L’Engle for putting to words that which I haven’t quite arrived at yet.

You may now head to your local Place of Books.

xo, c.

* = See also School and House.

What’s your favorite Madeleine L’Engle book?  What book is changing you now?  

4 thoughts on “on L’Engle & kindred hearts (a book review, of sorts)

  1. That sounds like a terrific book. I have a book that is a collection of quotations/passages from L’Engle on writing and spirituality — the name of the book escapes me (and I’m too firmly ensconced in the sofa to go trot to the bookshelf and look at it) but it has provided me with much food for thought.

    I used to play library, too! I’d even make little checkout slips and stamp them. (In our barcoded world, I guess this is something my kids will never experience, will they?).

    1. Let it be the summer of L’Engle, Ginny – she is LOVELY. And I find the natural intersection of faith and writing, over and over again, so, so refreshing.

      cara meredith carameredith.com

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