There are only two books I’ve ever read more than once. One of them is A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. I think I read the book six or seven times as a young girl. The story of captivated me: Meg Murry sets out to rescue her father after he disappears following experiments with time travel. In her journey, Meg transcends time and space, wrestling with evil in the novel’s dystopian setting. She’s a strong, creative and bright girl, and I’m sure I sensed that Meg, as the novel’s protagonist, was a great role model.
not just a young adult author
Fast forward a couple of decades, and I was overjoyed to learn that L’Engle had written many books for adults, too. Top on my list was The Crosswicks Journals, her four memoirs that explore family, faith and creativity. I was newly married and one of the books in this series, Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage really spoke to me. Here L’Engle explored the love, loss, challenge and conflict that marked her marriage to actor Hugh Franklin. It had been written a couple of years after Franklin’s death and the end of their 40 year marriage. As a newlywed, I saw Two-Part Invention as a tender and bittersweet guidebook to marriage.
I moved on to The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, another in the series. Here L’Engle explored the last year of her mother’s life, reflecting on what it means to care for a parent who once cared for you. My father had died just a year earlier, six months before my wedding, and L’Engle’s thoughtful reflections and honest questions really spoke to me, helping me with the multi-faceted experience of grief.
I’ve not yet read all of L’Engle’s works, but I have especially enjoyed two other books. The Ordering of Love is a collection of poetry exploring themes of love, loss and faith. Miracle on 10th Street: And Other Christmas Writings is a collage of L’Engle’s writings about Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, featuring snippets, poems, even short stories.
faith woven throughout her works
L’Engle’s Christian faith and her calling as a disciple of Jesus is evident throughout all her works that I’ve read. For 40 years L’Engle was the librarian and writer-in-residence at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City. She died in 2007.
Happy birthday madeleine!
So why write about Madeleine L’Engle in 2018? Today is the centenary of her birth. You’ll find reflections in the news, of course, including a lovely op-ed piece by Meg Waite Clayton in the Los Angeles Times. Meg Murry may have been a role model to my 12-year-old self, but Madeleine L’Engle has been a role model for me as an adult. She has taught me much about what it means to be a Christian, a wife, a mother, a writer. To honor L’Engle today, I’m reading Becoming Madeleine, a biography written by two of L’Engle’s granddaughters.
Blessed be her memory.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director.