“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” – Madeleine L’Engle

Walking on Water by Madeleine L'EngleThe writer, Madeleine L’Engle, wrote over 60 books in her lifetime, and is best known for her Newbery Award-winning book, A Wrinkle in Time. But I fell in love with L’Engle’s non-fiction, beginning with her profound Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.

Over the years, I’ve dog-eared, underlined, and marked up each of the books I’ve read of L’Engle’s work. Her words speak to me deeply and help refine my perspective on life, faith, art, and purpose. I hope they connect with you, as well …

10 favorite quotes by Madeleine L’Engle:

  • “Story makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving. Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matter cosmically.” –The Rock That is Higher

 

  • “We tell stories because we can’t help it. We tell stories because they fill the silence death imposes. We tell stories because they save us.” –The Rock That is Higher

 

  • “My great-great-grandmother, great-grandmother, grandmother, mother are alive for me because they are part of my story. My children and grandchildren and I tell stories about Hugh, my husband. We laugh and we remember. .. I do not believe that these stories are their immortality–that is something quite different. But remembering their stories is the best way I know to have them remain part of my mortal life.” – The Rock That is Higher

 

  • “A great painting, or symphony, or play, doesn’t diminish us, but enlarges us, and we, too, want to make our own cry of affirmation to the power of creation behind the universe. … It is beauty crying out for more beauty.” –A Circle of Quiet

 

  • “I felt somewhat the same sense of irrationality in the world around me … Whenever this occurs I turn to the piano, to my typewriter, to a book. We turn to stories and pictures and music because they show us who and what and why we are, and what our relationship is to life and death, what is essential, and what … will not burn.” –A Circle of Quiet

 

  • “Art is not a mirror but an icon. It takes the chaos in which we live and shows us structure and pattern, not the structure of conformity which imprisons but the structure which liberates, sets us free to become growing, mature human beings.” –A Circle of Quiet

 

  • “Nobody can teach creative writing–run like mad from anybody who thinks he can. But one can teach practices, like finger exercises on the piano; one can share the tools of the trade, and what one has gleaned from the great writers: it is the great writers themselves who do the teaching.” –A Circle of Quiet

 

  • “I don’t know what I’m like. I get glimpses of myself in other people’s eyes. I try to be careful whom I use as a mirror,: my husband; my children; my mother… But we aren’t always careful of our mirrors. I’m not. I made the mistake of thinking that I “ought” not to write because I wasn’t making money, and therefore in the eyes of many people around me I had no business to spend hours every day at the typewriter.” –A Circle of Quiet

 

  • “The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside himself in the game, be it building a sandcastle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos, we become what we are called to be as human beings, cocreators with God, touching on the wonder of creation.” –Walking on Water

 

  • “The degree of talent, the size of the gift, is immaterial. All artists must listen, but not all hear great symphonies, see wide canvasses, conceive complex, character-filled novels. No matter, the creative act is the same, and it is an act of faith.” –Walking on Water

 

Reading Madeleine L’Engle inspires me to read more, write more, paint and photograph and play music more; to create more. How about you: What creative works are you enjoying this summer?

Tomorrow, July 24 – July 26, at GreatNewBooks.org, we’re giving away 5 copies of one of my recent favorite books, The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. Stop on over and leave any comment to enter to win … The Secret Keeper is a great summer read. I hope you’ll stop by!

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