Monday, December 13, 2010

An Advent Ode to Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle is one of my all time favorites ... from "A Wrinkle in Time" -- which I read as a young person when it was published in 1962 -- to all her "Crosswicks Journals" to ... well, virtually everything she ever wrote. I had the privilege of attending a writer's workshop she led at Mt. Calvary in Santa Barbara many moons ago ... and it remains in my mind one of the the most fruitful, inspiring weekends ever.

I always re-read "The Irrational Season" at the beginning of Advent ... and I'd pulled this poem out to "post at some point during Advent" from my collection of Madeleine Favs ... and then noticed today several Facebook Friends had posted it as well, so decided it must be a planet-in-alignment thing and I should make the "some point" today.

But first, here are a few quotes from the online biography I just read (checking the above referenced publication date!)
L'Engle was an Episcopalian and believed in universal salvation, writing that "All will be redeemed in God's fullness of time, all, not just the small portion of the population who have been given the grace to know and accept Christ. All the strayed and stolen sheep. All the little lost ones."As a result of her promotion of Christian universalism, many Christian bookstores refused to carry her books, which were also frequently banned from Christian schools and libraries. However, some of her most secular critics attacked her work for being too religious.
And then there was this great summation:
A theme often implied and occasionally explicit in L'Engle's works is that the phenomena that people call religion, science and magic are simply different aspects of a single seamless reality.
And now, without further ado:

First Coming
by Madeleine L’Engle

He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he cameto a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.

He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!


Ann said...

Thanks -- have loved her writing for years. The Wrinkle in Time trilogy to Summer of the Great Grandmother

lou.poulain said...

Oh, thank you so much Susan! I was badly in need of this poem.

Sunnyvale CA

lori said...

Yes, one of my favs too. Do you remember meeting her at Beth's bookstore? She and I shared something unique, 150 year-old wedding rings.It was a trip comparing rings. I think I will take this poem to my Spirituality class.

Diana said...

Thanks for sharing this Susan. I loved reading the Wrinkle in Time series as a child. I am happy my son has also become a fan. I didn't know much about her, but now that I've read you're post, it's no surprise why I felt so moved by her stories.

LGMarshall said...

A wonderful writer, especially touching to young readers. I enjoyed her thoughtful magical writing when I was a kid. She was just a little bit ahead of her time... but today would fit in well with the Christian Universalism of the Episcopal Church.

She didn't believe in Hell, [even though Jesus spoke of it more than he spoke about Heaven]. She believed that all receive Salvation [Heaven], even if they reject Jesus... she said, "I cannot believe that God wants punishment to go on interminably any more than a loving parent does..."

True enough.

But, alas, there is this thing called Justice, that our God is. His name is Justice.

I'm sure there are many mothers of sons in prison, that wish that their son's punishment would not go on interminably... yet... you could say the son who commited the crime is exactly where he always wanted to be...[because he KNEW the consequences of breaking the Law, which is loss of freedom, even death.]

Some good news, those on death row, can still choose Jesus, and gain eternal Life. But sadly, some will stubbornly refuse to bend their knee. There is a consequence to rejecting Jesus... I just hope Madeleine's writings didn't confuse her readers into thinking they needn't make a decision, yay or nay.

uffda51 said...

It’s interesting that those who claim “God is Justice” see justice only in terms of retribution.

Injustice in economic or social terms is not only not to be remedied but is to be perpetuated. DADT, ENDA, marriage equality, unemployment benefits extensions, educational opportunities, immigration, minimum wage, government-sanctioned torture, wars of occupation, support for veterans and 9/11/ first responders – no justice needed, God is in charge. “Do unto others” and “on earth as it is in heaven?” Obviously not meant to be taken literally.

Thanks for posting Madeleine's writings.