"There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation." -Madeleine L'Engle
A significant event happened less than a week ago, which I was unable to mark at the time, and that is the passing of Madeline L'Engle. Known mostly for her brilliant contribution to juvenile fiction (A Wrinkle in Time, etc) L'Engle wrote a great deal of non-fiction which explored the profundity and simplicity of being an artist, a Christian, a woman, a wife, a questioner, a rebel and a lover of words and mystery. I don't remember exactly how it became important to me upon graduating from college in 2002, to purchase "Walking on Water: reflections on Faith and Art" with some of my graduation money, but I spent that summer after college, both revisitng her most famous children's series, and starting to navigate my way through her highly theological-creative-memoiresque reflective writings. In fact, it was something I read in her reflections on the narratives of Genesis, that inspired me to write an exegetical paper this summer on the event of Israel's first born Rueben, sleeping with his father's concubine.
L'Engle's gentle insights and bold embracing of truths, enlarged my faith with a sense of generosity for questions and demoninational differences. She taught me a lot about how better to think about art, others and Jesus, and for that, I am very grateful. I was also proud to have her serve as Secretary on my Fantasy Board of Trustees for five solid years. This is the first board member to pass away, and she will be hard to replace.
But enough about my thoughts on her, I'll leave with Madeleine in her own words.
"Stories, no matter how simple, can be vehicles of truth; can be, in fact, icons. It’s no coincidence that Jesus taught almost entirely by telling stories, simple stories dealing with the stuff of life familiar to the Jews of his day. Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos.
God asked Adam to name all the animals, which was asking Adam to help in the creation of their wholeness. When we name each other, we are sharing in the joy and privilege of incarnation, and all great works of art are icons of Naming. When we look at a painting, or hear a symphony, or read a book, [we] feel more Named…"
Get to know her a bit through some of these:
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
The Rock That is Higher: Story as Truth
The Genesis Trilogy
A Wrinkle in Time