Loveliness

November 4, 2014 at 5:12 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Crosswicks 2Title: The Summer of the Great-Grandmother (Crosswicks Journal Book Two)

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Genre: Memoir

I’ve been reading The Summer of the Great-Grandmother for nearly a month now.  I read pieces and snippets in particular moods – moods when I need it: L’Engle’s wisdom and a bit of the outdoors.

But finally, last night, I turned the last page.

I finished and sat there a moment.  My journal open, the book closed, my pen ready and not ready at the same time.  Ready because I had a vision to capture in the ink.  Not ready because it didn’t seem to me like a book review at all, but it’s what I have – my thoughts regarding this book.

I cannot help but think of Sandy Smith while I am reading it.  L’Engle tells tales of her home life and mentally, for some reason or another, I picture Smith’s face rather than L’Engle’s.  Perhaps it is because I’ve met Sandy, but L’Engle is a series of disjointed pictures from different decades that I have plucked from the internet.  Sandy is flesh and blood to me, and L’Engle deserves to seem like flesh and blood in my mind.  Flat internet images glowing with the unnatural light of an LED background do not do her justice.  I hope Sandy doesn’t mind me stealing her image and loaning it to another in my mind.

It’s just that – in my mind, they belong together.  They are joined by associations I may never be able to clearly express, but might be able to feebly make a fraction of sense of them here.

They are each writers and humans in their own right, but L’Engle’s writing seems to have the same aura of loveliness that I find in Sandy when talking to her in person.  When I think of her, this soft spoken writer who traveled all the way from Oregon to Texas for a book signing tour, you’d think I’d remember the hours I spent with her in bookstores hanging out around tables of her young adult series Seed Savers.  But I don’t.

P1010598Instead, I specifically recall looking back at her while walking on a trail – her face lit up by the sun and a full smile as she looked back her husband entertaining my daughter with flora and fauna and a delightful hat.  (The picture on the left is not long after that moment that is ingrained in my mind forever.)

As in every moment with her, she had a twinkle in her eye.  I’d call it a spark, even.  She’s someone you meet and instantly want to be her friend, or little sister, or niece, or daughter.  It doesn’t matter, you just long to matter to her because she is wonderful and wise and everything about being around her feels enriching.

I do not know Madeleine L’Engle other than by her books, and I would not presume to say that I really know Sandy Smith either – I’ve just had the pleasure of her company, the joy of promoting her books, we’ve chattered back and forth in emails to plan signings and blog tours, and I adore her.  But in my mind, I imagine L’Engle and Smith as kindred spirits that belong to the same whisper of a thought.

Perhaps this is one of those things I’m meant to keep to myself.  I’m not sure.  I have forgotten, until recently when back in the store full time, how awkward I can be.  I say things at odd times, like tonight when I commented on a girl’s freckles.  I really love freckles.  But I’ve read The Summer of the Great-Grandmother and I’m grasping to “review” it.  I can’t.  I can only tell you about a feeling, and that feeling was a memory of sunshine and a respect for life and nature on an Easter Weekend in the woods near my old home.  Ultimately, I can only choose one word that describes it all… this book, the ladies in question, the woods, that moment…

loveliness.

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Circle of Quiet, Trails of Solace

June 17, 2014 at 6:37 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

circle of quietTitle:A Circle of Quiet
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Memoir/ Spirituality
Length: 229 pages

A Circle of Quiet is powerful.  So powerful it inspired me to write nearly 10,000 useable words, to writers you may note the awe I have when I say useable.

Some were used for the sequel to my novella, a novel that is supposed to come out in the fall of this year – fingers crossed.  But most of the words were for a new book, stories about my trails in the woods that are itching to be told but I’ve not known how to tell them because it’s all still happening, my trails are still real.

What is most impressive to me about A Circle of Quiet is not how many beautifully quotable quotes there are, but how completely relevant L’Engle’s story is to me.  So relevant, I didn’t noticed until 3/4 of the way through the book that it was published in 1972 and the things she writes about occurred in the early seventies if not the late sixties.

I was baffled to discover this.  A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of her children’s books are as fresh to me as the Harry Potter series.  I read them as I child without the impression that they were old.  In my mind, L’Engle has been an author of the 80’s who would be around as long as C.S. Lewis once the years had passed.  I did not realize that the books were much older than that and that the years had already passed.  A Wrinkle in Time was first published in 1962.

How is this possible that every moment, every ache, every joy (aside from winning the Newberry of course, as I’ve won nothing) is one I feel in every fiber of my being as a thirty year old in 2014? When she was born in 1918.  What struck me most is that A Circle of Quiet is timeless.

Madeleine L’Engle is timeless.

This is a must read for any mother, any writer or creative, any soul searching for God, any person trying to balance their introversion with their extroversion, and ultimately any person.

She published these from her journals, which she admits were written for publication, but still I am honored to have been allowed a peek into the window of her thoughts.

 

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