Friday, September 7, 2007

Stardust to Stardust

Beloved and popular children's author/Young Adult novelist, Madeleine L'Engle, passed away, this week, at age 88.

My love of her writing--how her writing made me feel--is what makes me sad to hear about this loss, as I'm sure that it does for many of her fans.

L'Engle is probably best known for her children's classic, 'A Wrinkle in Time,' and for its companion books. One of the reasons I am repeatedly a member of her reading audience is that L'Engle writes simultaneously about scientific and spiritual themes as if they are one and the same, in my interpretations, at least. L'Engle seems to write about science in a way that it was meant to be understood, originally, without any type of creation-versus-evolution conflict.

Most of all, reading L'Engle's books is substantially uplifting for me. It is "refreshment for the soul," as C.S. Lewis wrote in 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader.'
It is the reason that I have read her 'A Ring of Endless Light' over and over in the last twenty-five years.

'A Ring of Endless Light' is a good one to start with, if you're not familiar with her books. The story deals with death, from beginning to end, and how sixteen year old Vicky Austin copes with feeling overwhelmed by it all. And yet, the book manages to be uplifting, maybe because it is also about life. An integral part of the storyline, and perhaps an example of the science-and-religion-as-one theme, is Vicky's communing joyfully with dolphins in the wild.

Whether my interpretation is right or not, L'Engle wrote about scientific subjects poetically, which is part of what makes for such enjoyable reading.
We are all "completely made of stardust," L'Engle would tell people, according to a short essay that is included in a recent printing of 'A Wrinkle in Time.'
"Our little molecules are the leftovers of big stars that exploded eons ago."

Madeleine L'Engle may have reached her life's end, but her light is not extinguished. Just as the travelling light of stars no longer in existence reaches our vision on this planet, her writings will continue to illuminate the minds and lives of both children and adults for many years to come.

For her fans: Madeleine L'Engle is now like Mrs. Whatsit, a star who gave up its life in battle with the dark Thing.

To Miss L'Engle: Wherever you are, like Charles Wallace said to Mrs. Whatsit, "I should like to kiss you."


golfwidow said...

In Madeleine L'Engle's autobiography, she wrote a helpful hint that, if you must cry in bed, sit up, so you don't get a sinus headache.

This tip has stood me in good stead upon hearing the news.

Quin said...

you made me cry

Peter Varvel said...

Golfwidow and Quin,

Anybody who is considered "one of us" (as Charles considered Calvin), understands one of those basic paradoxes of life--that only by knowing some sorrow can we fully experience any joy in life.

Thank you for communing with me.

golfwidow said...

"I'm a sport."

"So 'm I."

"I don't mean, like, in baseball."

Peter Varvel said...

"Neither do I."

"Strawberry jam or raspberry?"

. . . just "whistling in the dark."