Posted by: pendrops | November 28, 2007

madeleine

madeleine.jpg

“It was a dark and stormy night.”

“If you start any of your stories with this line right here,” my high school creative writing teacher said, slapping the chalkboard with a yard stick, “I’ll give you an F for the semester. It’s already been done.”

As the chalk dust settled and Mr. Viers moved on to the next topic, we students laughed nervously. Of course, we never started any of our stories with, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

That’s why I nearly had a conniption fourteen years later when I picked up Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved children’s book, A Wrinkle in Time.

“What the –“ I exclaimed as I read the first line of the novel. I slammed the book down on the table.

“It was a dark and stormy night? You’ve got to be kidding me!” I picked up the book and read the first line again just to be sure. “She’s the one! She said it first!”

After my momentary literary epiphany passed, I breathed in deeply, smiled, and dove into the book that, for some reason, never crossed my childhood path. In fact, I didn’t even meet Madeleine until twelve days after she died. And we weren’t introduced by her award-winning Wrinkle, but by one of her more obscure works: Walking on Water.

Nevertheless, there she was, in all her unassuming wisdom, quite pleased to meet me it seemed, being a fellow writer and artist. At that first meeting, we had peppermint tea together in the café where I found refreshment, honesty and truth in the way Madeleine talked about the seen and unseen world. Her brilliance and humor continued to pull me in as I soaked in her tales of what it means to be child and mother, artist and woman, storyteller and believer.

Not long after, I would pick up Wrinkle as well as the following four books in that series, drinking in the fantasy world of unlikely heroes and unexplainable phenomenons, tessering and unicorns.

Today, at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, the day before Ms. L’Engle’s November 29th birthday, a memorial service is being held to celebrate this exceptional writer. If I could, I would tesseract* myself to New York City; I would kythe** in agreement with those there who will honor this daring and unique voice who challenged us, inspiried us, and gave us some of the English language’s most memorable works.

“All of life is story, story unraveling and revealing meaning,” Madeleine said in her book Walking on Water. These words may not be as popular as her “It was a dark and stormy night” line, but in so many ways she is worthy of being remembered for enriching our lives by unraveling life’s most meaningful stories.

*Tesseract, a legitimate mathematic term, is used by Madeleine’s characters in the Wrinkle series as a form of extra-speedy time travel.

**Kythe is an old Scottish word Madeleine used to describe a type of intuitive communication between two people.

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Responses

  1. That is a book that was one of the optional books to read, and I never did. Still haven’t in fact. It is the one book I regret not reading.


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