Madeleine L’Engle

CHRISTMAS REFLECTION: This Love Is Not Like Our Love by Madeleine L’Engle

December 28, 2018

From The Irrational Season Holy Innocents’ Day is a stumbling block for me.  This is a festival?  This remembering the slaughter of all those babies under two years of age whose only wrong was to have been born at a time when three Wise Men came out of the East to worship a great King; and Herod, in panic lest his Earthly power be taken away from him by this unknown infant potentate, ordered the execution of all the children who might grow up to dethrone him. Jesus grew up to heal and preach at the expense of all those little ones, and I have sometimes wondered if his loving gentleness with small children may not have had something to do with this incredible price.  And it causes me to ask painful questions about the love of God.  [...]

POETRY: The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold by Madeleine L’Engle

December 15, 2018

The winter is cold, is cold. All’s spent in keeping warm. Has joy been frozen, too? I blow upon my hands Stiff from the biting wind. My heart beats slow, beats slow. What has become of joy? If joy’s gone from my heart Then it is closed to You Who made it, gave it life. If I protect myself I’m hiding, Lord, from you. How we defend ourselves In ancient suits of mail! Protected from the sword, Shrinking from the wound, We look for happiness, Small, safety-seeking, dulled, Selfish, exclusive, in-turned. Elusive, evasive, peace comes Only when it’s not sought. Help me forget the cold That grips the grasping world. Let me stretch out my hands To purifying fire, Clutching fingers uncurled. Look! Here is the melting joy. My heart beats [...]

POETRY: Into The Darkest Hour by Madeleine L’Engle

December 4, 2018

It was a time like this, War & tumult of war, a horror in the air. Hungry yawned the abyss— and yet there came the star and the child most wonderfully there. It was time like this of fear & lust for power, license & greed and blight— and yet the Prince of bliss came into the darkest hour in quiet & silent light. And in a time like this how celebrate his birth when all things fall apart? Ah! Wonderful it is with no room on the earth the stable is our [...]

HEALING: Healed, Whole And Holy, by Madeleine L’Engle

April 14, 2016

From Walking On Water Along with reawakening the sense of newness, Bach’s music points me to wholeness, a wholeness of body, mind, and spirit, which we seldom glimpse, but which we are intended to know.  It is no coincidence that the root word of whole, health, heal, holy, is hale (as in hale and hearty).  If we are healed, we become whole; we are hale and hearty; we are holy. The marvelous thing is that this holiness is nothing we can earn.  We don’t become holy by acquiring merit badges and Brownie points.  It has nothing to do with virtue or job descriptions or morality.  It is nothing we can do, in this do-it-yourself world.  It is gift, sheer gift, waiting there to be recognized and received.  We do not have to [...]

THE SHADOW: Light’s Companion by Madeleine L’Engle

September 30, 2014

From Parabola In A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson writes, “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me / and what can be the use of him is more than I can see.”  Those lines baffled me as a child.  I didn’t regard my shadow as being useful, but as being essential.  I read everything I could get hold of, and somewhere I had read that if you did not cast a shadow you didn’t exist.  Ghosts had no shadows.  I’m not sure about werewolves.  But to be a real human being, you had to cast a shadow.  I lived in New York City, and when I walked to the park I was moderately careful to walk around people’s shadows so that I didn’t step on them; I didn’t want [...]

SATURDAY READING: Seek Solitude by David Yount

March 22, 2014

From Spiritual Simplicity Make Peace With Yourself   Simple living is not trouble free.  Simplicity offers no permanent protection against adversity, but it will help you to deal with ill fortune more calmly and sensibly, while giving you the foresight to head off unnecessary setbacks.  By establishing reasonable expectations and responsible habits you will no longer be a ready candidate for victimization.  You will anticipate ups and downs, but you will not be down for long. The only sure things in life, we’re told, are death and taxes, but they are the things we worry least about.  Only about one American in four frets about dying, but two-thirds of us worry about ending our days in a nursing home because of physical frailty [...]

HOPE: Smells Like Hope, by Madeleine L’Engle

March 6, 2014

Madeleine L’Engle wrote about her mother’s death in The Summer of Great-Grandmother, and about her late husband in Two-Part Invention. Her son, Bion died at Christmastime in 1999. At the time of this interview, it was a year after her son’s death, and Madeleine spoke of burying her son’s ashes. From The Life of Meaning, by Bob Abernethy and William Bole She wanted a long song, and I started with “Barbara Allen.”  And she said, “Gran, you know that’s a bad one.” And I said, “Why, Charlotte?  Because everyone dies?” And she said, “No, Gran.  Nobody loved anybody.” And then it was the next night, putting them to bed, that Lena just looked at me [...]

MORNING DEW: Jacob and the Angel, by Madeleine L’Engle

February 3, 2013

From Ladder of Angels Mortal and angel wrestle through the night, Jacob struggling, wildly wondering why An angel should choose man for this strange fight. The crystal ladder breaks the fragile sky As angels watch the two throughout the dark. Towards dawn the angel smites tired Jacob’s thigh; Forever will he bear the wound and mark God’s messenger has left him. And the light Of all the watching angels rises high; The crystal ladder breaks the fragile sky. The world is hushed and still; the earth is stark, Astonished at the angel’s choice and Jacob’s cry. Forever will he bear the wound and mark The Lord has left to show his humble might. All those who wrestle thus must surely die To live once more to show the [...]

ADVENT MEDITATION: A Sky Full Of Children by Madeleine L’Engle

December 4, 2012

I walk out onto the deck of my cottage, looking up at the great river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky.  A sliver of a moon hangs in the southwest, with the evening star gently in the curve. Evening.  Evening of this day.  Evening of my own life. I look at the stars and wonder.  How old is the universe?  All kinds of estimates have been made and, as far as we can tell, not one is accurate.  All we know is that once upon a time or, rather, once before time, Christ called everything into being in a great breath of creativity — waters, land, green growing things, birds and beasts, and finally human creatures — the beginning, the genesis, not in ordinary Earth days; the Bible makes it quite clear that God’s time is different [...]


September 12, 2012

The Three Angels Tell of the Birth of Isaac Hail!  He will be born, A child of laughter and tears. You will bear a child And you will laugh unto tears, But laughter will stay at last. Isaac, do not fear! Young ram, do not be afraid! Ram, caught in the bush, The bush that burns, undestroyed, I am the fire and the ram. (Madeleine L’Engle) Sacrifice of Isaac O my father, am I really to go with you? And help you with the sacrifice to the Lord? You’ve never taken me before, and I’ve always wanted to go. Why do you weep, Mother? We won’t be long. I’m growing up, now, and it is right that I go with Father. Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice? Father, what are you doing? Father — Father, how can the Lord want me? I am only a [...]

POETRY: And The Old Man Became As A Little Child by Madeleine L’Engle

September 5, 2012

This poem was written in remembrance of the Holy Innocents — those babies who were killed around the time of Jesus’s birth.  The man in the poem is imagined to be the father of a Holy Innocent, and the nobleman from Capernaum whose son Jesus saved from death. He could not sleep. The tomb was dark, and the stone heavy that sealed it. He could not sleep for all the innocent blood he had seen shed. He was an old man. Too old for tears. Not yet young enough for sleep. He waited and watched. Thrice he had spoken to him whose body had been sealed within the tomb, thrice had the old man spoken, he who was a disciple, but not one of the twelve, older, gentler in all ways, and tired, worn with time and experience and the shedding of [...]

POETRY: Love Letter by Madeleine L’Engle

April 4, 2012

I hate you, God. Love, Madeleine. I write my message on water and at bedtime I tiptoe upstairs and let it flow under your door. When I am angry with you I know that you are there even if you do not answer my knock even when your butler opens the door an inch and flaps his thousand wings in annoyance at such untoward interruption and says that the master is not at home. I love you, Madeleine. Hate, God. (This is how I treat my friends, he said to one great saint. No wonder you have so few of them, Lord, she replied.) I cannot turn the other cheek It takes all the strength I have To keep my fist from hitting back the soldiers shot the baby the little boys trample the old woman the gutters are filled with groans while pleasure seekers knock [...]