“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. This surge of creativity has nothing to do with competition, or degree of talent. When I hear a superb pianist, I can’t wait to get to my own piano, and I play about as well now as I did when I was ten. A great novel, rather than discouraging me, simply makes me want to write. This response on the part of any artist is the need to make incarnate the new awareness we have been granted through the genius of someone else.”
~ A Circle of Quiet, by Madeleine L’Engle
I have made it one of my life’s goals to read every single book Madeleine L’Engle ever wrote. I don’t know that I have ever been so moved, so utterly captivated, and so profoundly influenced by the words of any other author. Over the last 2+ years, she has become a personal inspiration and a mentor in my writing, and I have never wished more heartily that an author was still living, so that I might have the chance, however slight, of meeting her someday and telling her how much her work has impacted me.
Even though I don’t fully agree with her on every topic she covers, her voice on the page is so wonderful that when I finished reading A Circle of Quiet, I searched YouTube on the off chance that I could find a video and hear what her voice really sounded like. What a delight when I did. I want to steep myself in Madeleine’s wonderful words; allow myself to experience the tender love for language that she obviously felt, and the appreciation (almost approaching reverence) that she felt for the imagination.
I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time as a preteen, although quite frankly, I don’t recall much about either the story itself or my own reactions to reading it. I have it on my to-read list again, along with the sequels to Wrinkle, and I look forward to enjoying the rest of Madeleine’s fictional works as well. She was such a prolific author that I anticipate enjoying her words for many years to come.
Both A Circle of Quiet and her nonfiction classic Walking on Water (the quintessential book exploring the relationship between art and faith, and demonstrating the profound necessity of art even in our fallen world) have made it onto my “always reading” list of books – titles that I will return to over and over again for inspiration, for encouragement, and simply to hear the familiar voice of an old friend. As I continue to work my way through the rest of her books, I know I will find other gems, and I know that she will continue to become more of an inspiration and mentor.