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As a former foster child, my passion is advocating for and with foster care youth, publicizing the challenges that they face and addressing their developmental and emotional needs through workshops.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Saying goodbye to Madeleine L'Engle

I just read the news today:

Madeleine L'Engle's books were an integral part of my childhood.

Like Vicky, from the
Austin series, I was the sort of child who deeply analyzed everyone and everything in my surroundings, looking for some secret clue about how things worked.

Like Meg, from her Wrinkle in Time series, I went through an "ugly duckling" period while I was outgrowing my child-self. I also had a precocious little brother, who was somewhat like Charles Wallace. At the age of nine, I even went so far as to memorize the rune from A Swiftly Turning Planet, as I shall prove now by writing it entirely from memory:

"At Tara, in this fateful hour
I call on heaven with all its power
And the sun with its brightness
And the snow with its whiteness
And the fire with all the strength it hath
And the lightening with its rapid wrath
And the winds with swiftness along their path

And the sea with its deepness
And the rocks with their steepness
And the earth with its starkness
All these I place, by God's almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness."

In college, I read L'Engle's adult novels and nonfiction books, and even amassed an entire collection of Madeleine L'Engle quotes. Despite the vast difference in our ages, L'Engle always seemed to be pondering the very issues that were becoming vitally important to me.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Madeleine L'Engle:

-- “The artist’s response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write. Not to impose restrictive rules, but to rejoice in pattern and meaning. For there is something in all artists which rejects coincidence and accident…We must meet the precariousness of the universe without self-pity, and with dignity and courage.” - Madeleine L’Engle

-- “There is little character or loveliness in the face of someone who has shunned risk, avoided suffering and rejected life…” - Madeleine L’Engle

-- “To learn to love is to be stripped of all love, until you are wholly without love. Because until you have gone, naked and afraid, into this cold, dark place, you will not know that you are wholly within love."

- "There are three ways that you can live life – three again – remember that great writers always do things in threes.

"You can live life as though it’s all a cosmic accident; we’re nothing but an irritating skin disease on the face of the earth. Maybe you can live your life as though everything’s a bad joke. I can’t.

"Or you can go out at night and look at the stars and think, yes, they were created by a prime mover and so were you, but he’s aloof perfection, impassible, indifferent to his creation. He doesn’t care, or, if he cares, he only cares about the ultimate end of his creation… You don’t matter to him, I don’t matter to him, except possibly as the means to an end. I can’t live that way either.

"Then there’s a third way: to live as though you believe that the power behind the universe is a power of love, a love so great that all of us really do matter to him. He loves us so much that every single one of our lives has meaning; he really does know about the fall of the sparrow, and the hairs on our head are really counted. That’s the only way I can live."


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