that today’s writing be about one of my heros.
Madeleine L’Engle – a thinker extradrdinaire, a writer fantastic.
I was seven years old when my dad, an elementary school teacher-librarian at the time, introduced me to her book, “A Wrinkle in Time”. It was my first exposure to real speculative fiction – stuff with depth and meaning. After gobbling up her series of books, I found my way to Heinlein’s “juviniles”… and more… and more.
All of her writing, both her fiction and her non-fiction, was firmly based on her faith. It was never overtly Christian, but all the themes were there. I liked that – a lot. I think she was one of the people who helped me understand that science and faith were not in opposition… and I have tessered through my life.
When I graduated from Queen’s Theological College with my Master’s Degree in Divinity, my parents wanted to give me a gift. Sometime that year, I had noted that Madeleine was going to be teaching a week-long writing course at Vancouver School of Theology, at the end of June. All three of us had sighed, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to…”
So I was more than a bit shocked when my parents presented me with the gift of the travel and tuition for the course.
It was overflowing – nearly double the maximum number of students. We were set up in teams, writing daily, sharing our work with each other, listening to and learning – not only from Madeleine, but from each other. Eight of us would have the chance to be in a “master class”… having our writing read by her each day, wither her thoughts, comments and suggestions written in the columns.
I have those sheets, with her distinctive hand-written comments, safely sealed and in a display frame. I was one of the very lucky ones.
In our final time of sitting and chatting that week, she sat quietly looking at me for a few moments. Breaking the silence, she said, “Richard, I don’t expect that I will ever have the chance to see your writing published. It’s good. Very good. But there is only so much energy for creative sharing that can flow through any one person… and if you are going to be a good minister and priest, that’s where you’ll focus – and they will be so fortunate.”
She was right. Most of the time, my writing has been focused in congregational life.
Since then, I’ve been carefully reading all of her theological-reflection writing. Her words have called me back to my purpose, again and again.
The world has been more beautiful because of the gift of Madeleine.
Blessed tessering, sister.