Sunday, September 09, 2007

Beyond FAREWELL: Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007)

Thanks to Patry Francis over at Simply Wait for waking me up to the news that author Madeleine L’Engle had passed away. After reading Patry’s Friday post I read a New York Times tribute to Ms. L’Engle. She led such a full life and impacted so many. I love to think of her as a young mother of three children who worked with her husband to resurrect a general store in the small town of Goshen, Connecticut, while her artistic life—temporarily put on hold—waited patiently to be picked up, brushed off, and rediscovered when time and circumstances allowed. I feel like I’m at that point of rediscovery and real growth these days, and appreciate all she must have done to keep it all together despite so many demands on her time and energy.

I discussed a particular, personal moment of wonder with the Images and Identity class at CU-Denver last week and shortly after was reminded of another when I began reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. On page eight, the main character recalls overhearing this statement: “Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart.” For me, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was that book.

I still remember the small rack of paperbacks stashed in the storage area/back entranceway of my parish school; the back entry led to a sidewalk to the convent. That rack of books comprised my school’s “book fair” and somehow I found myself alone as I perused the small collection. I’m sure I held tight to a few folded dollars and maybe some saved change, savings I’d hand over to my teacher if I found something I could afford. I remember standing near a small window and light streaming in (really; it was that kind of fourth-grade moment of wonder) and I remember finding a copy of A Wrinkle in Time that fascinated me on the spot. I don’t know how many times I read that book back then, but the images of Meg and Charles Wallace and the unique, almost mystical language used on those pages stayed with me for a long time. As I commented on Patry’s blog, at some point Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time convinced me that nothing but a writing life would do, though it took me many years to fully accept and pursue that calling.

The past few weeks have been full of creative wonder for me as I’ve written another short story, beefed up my blogging activities, met a number of other local authors thanks to Patry’s blog (meetings which then led to my introduction to even more local literary types through the Denver chapter of the Literary Ladies Luncheon), and my Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute presentations at CU-Denver. Today, I thoroughly enjoyed a meeting with the six other RMWI 2007-2008 associates. I’d been impressed at our first meeting with the diversity of this group; now after viewing some of the other artists’ work, hearing more of their stories, and learning what compels them, I’m convinced my participation in this group represents an important step in my development as a writer. While I’ve got many people to thank up and down the line for all these recent riches of experience and inspiration, it all leads back to Madeleine L’Engle and that fourth-grade moment of wonder as I reached for one of her magical books, a book that would speak volumes to me for many years to come.


Blogger Lisa said...

This is all so wonderful to read about. I think very exciting things are in store for you this year!

9:38 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Fingers crossed while knocking on wood, Lisa! Not that I'm superstitious or anything. It just seems the more I get out there and the more time I spend just plugging away, the more I learn from all this. How cool is that. K.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Carleen Brice said...

Very cool, indeed. I feel the same way actually. One of my goals this year was to meet more writers who are actually writing. I can check that one off my list now.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

I know what you mean, Carleen. It really does help. I'm looking forward to doing more Lighthouse workshops etc. down the line. We'll get there! K.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

That was my favorite book for years and years and years. I'm crushed that I can't get my kids to read it, but I suppose they have their own magical books...

9:41 AM  

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