Friday, November 28, 2008

On the occasion of Madeleine's 90th Birthday



It is a beautiful October day in Northwestern Connecticut, the leaves delicious in their gold and red grandeur, the kind of day my grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle would have gloried in: a writer’s kind of day, filled with poetry and metaphor, the beauty of dying trees waiting to bloom again. Childishly, I wish that she would bloom again. She died on September 6th, 2007, and would have been ninety today, November 29th.

“Gran loved this,” I force myself to say, surveying the stunning vista of Mohawk Mountain in the distance as my sister Charlotte stands with me on the porch of the Cottage across the street from Crosswicks, a staging ground for three households worth of memories. We are staying at Crosswicks itself, the 1760s farmhouse that my grandparents bought in 1945, where our mother, Josephine, now lives, after having dealt with a grueling renovation for the past three years. Gran would be thrilled that her wishes of restoration and renewal have come to fruition. She had wanted Crosswicks, a place of so much history, to be cherished, to be a very real symbol of continuity and family gatherings.

Yet we stand there, bracing ourselves for another round of organizing both the detritus and treasures of her life. The Cottage holds the strings and sealing wax not only from its own life, but from Gran’s apartment in New York City, and Crosswicks, where everything had to be moved out to restore the house from the ground up.

Crosswicks is not only where our mother and her siblings grew up during the 1950s after my grandfather quit New York City theatre to run a country store; not only where my grandmother disappeared to her “ivory tower” above the garage to write, and suffered a decade of rejections before finding success with A Wrinkle in Time in 1962; it is the place where my grandmother matured as a writer, where she explored and discovered her voice, where we believed she based many of her books. The home is itself a symbol of her expansive mind, a sprawling space with a ping-pong table to exorcise Gran’s fierce competitiveness, and the friendly but naughty ghosts Abigail and Ebenezer, blamed whenever Gran misplaced her keys or eyeglasses! Charlotte and I always imagined that Crosswicks itself belonged in the realm of literature: that it is just as much the setting for Meet the Austins, A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, as it is in her non- fiction. In the attic is Meg Murry’s brass bed and in the backyard is the twins’ vegetable garden, the stone wall, the brook, and last but not least, the star watching rock.

The entire grounds are still alive with her essence, but I am having trouble experiencing it; I only see how much more work there is to do. So it is with trepidation that we open the sliding doors to her grand bedroom at the cottage. Memories of my grandparents, Madeleine and Hugh Franklin, Gran and Gum, are dancing in the dust. Gum was so named because I, as the first grandchild, couldn’t pronounce the “Grumpy Old Grandpa” he wished to be called when I was two. Such was his odd sense of humor, an unusually grounded actor who was the counterpoint to Gran’s effervescence. The man who quietly whistled under his breath, mowed the lawn and did crossword puzzles won over the heart of the woman who played piano and sang at the top of her lungs, carried a bawdy sense of humor, talked to God and wore colorful clothing and wild jewelry. It always fascinated me how they were mirror opposites: Gum was as extroverted in his art as an actor as she was introverted in her art as a writer, and in order to serve that art, Gran was just as extroverted in her life as he was introverted.

Almost in homage to their spirits, the room has a cathedral-like ceiling, and two walls of windows looking out onto the Litchfield Hills. Charlotte and I are speechless again, daunted by the drudgery in front of us, daunted by our yearning to channel all that Gran had taught us about creating cosmos out of chaos. For her that task had been telling stories. But what is it for us? And how can we do it with these boxes in our way?

Charlotte has been the ferocious fire, the one who demands that we work, who tirelessly sees the scope of all that has to be done. I have been the air, feeding her flames. Neither of us can do this alone, and it has been an uphill battle.

The last time we made our Connecticut pilgrimage, we had tackled a heap of plastic gloves and adult diapers: unhappy memories of her descent. We had already taken several trips to both the dump and to Goodwill, and we’d had a tag sale. Yet so much more remained.

“It looks as if we haven’t done anything at all,” Charlotte almost whispers. “It’s too much.” It is an awful, disorganized mess, and it is all we can do not to shrug our shoulders and walk away, this time for good. Hire somebody else to deal with it. Charlotte’s flame was bright this morning after several cups of coffee, but now her fire has turned to embers, and she needs my air to get her started again. But where is my air, my hope?

My despondency makes me mourn Gran’s vision of me as a little girl, full of possibility. I am yearning for the good memories of my salty grandmother who taught me as a child to believe in the endless possibilities of a life lived with imagination and creativity, who when I was a teenager identified with my adolescent depression and rages and helped me to feel less alone by telling me stories of what it is to be human, about the interconnectedness of life, and that there is no such thing as terminal uniqueness.

Where is the adult I thought I had become, the daughter and granddaughter able to process the past instead of being stuck in it, the writer able to move the story forward?

Gran’s philosophy was filled with awe at both the radiance and the shadowy smudges of life, and I am almost ashamed at my comparative lack of faith. As children, Charlotte and I thought she was magic, able to see the world through our eyes, where others couldn’t. Every year she would take us to see The Nutcracker and was as giddy with excitement as we were. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was enchanting with Gran as our guide. At tea parties, she would inhabit the tooth fairy, Peter Pan, King Arthur and Guinevere, an equal partner in our games. Is there any of that magic left in this dusty room?

Snap out of it Léna! I have to find my air, the whirling dervish deep down in me, or we have to leave. I take a deep breath and steer Charlotte towards the desk, where books have long ago been cleared off shelves and boxed in the basement for a reckoning at a later date, but her desk and windowsills remained full of knickknacks that hadn’t been sorted through. I catch sight of one of the old Santa Claus mugs that we used as children, when Gran would make us minty hot cocoa, and we all would escape to her room with her antique four poster bed, snuggle under the covers and read Shakespeare out loud, giggling at Gran’s rendition of Malvolio in Twelfth Night, my interpretation of Viola, and Charlotte’s Olivia.

We immediately see several things that our daughters would covet, and we look out the window at them playing on the deck. They had already absconded with pieces of costume jewelry and a tea set from the leftovers of the recent tag sale. Both girls are our grandmother’s namesakes. Charlotte’s daughter, almost eight, is Madeleine L’Engle Voiklis, nicknamed Magda. My daughter’s name is Scarlett L’Engle Roy, and at three and a half bears an elfin face reminiscent of her great-grandmother’s. They are making up stories, enhancing the present with things from the past.

We look at our daughters playing with Gran’s old “junk”, things that we had recently tried to give away, and the dawn of a new understanding begins to rise. With renewed energy, we begin making piles for the kids, for charity, for garbage. We use “the girls” as an excuse to keep things that on our more ruthless days we might just throw out or give away. Watching the girls play outside as we work keeps our hearts in check. We keep her old typewriters even though nobody will use them; we keep the set of sun and moon glasses, split between us; we keep some, but not all, of Gran’s giraffe and unicorn figurines. These were emblems of her own mythology: she had been compared to a giraffe once because of her height and long neck, a description that glued to her over the years. The unicorn represented the purity and magic of creativity: an obvious totem for her. We keep several Buddhas, along with crosses and icons of Christian saints. Having a Buddha on her desk was a reminder to Gran that she was a writer for all people, not just Christians, a personal symbol for her iconoclasm.

I am hauling a box of stemware over to the rest of the china when I hear my sister sigh.

“What is it?” I ask. She is staring at a watch and tearing up.

“She loved this watch. It was an anniversary present from Gum.” Gum had given it to her as an anniversary present and Gran had cherished it, especially after he died in September of 1986. It was a symbol of their life together, of time spent, not wasted, another symbol of continuity. I rub Charlotte’s back a little, and she sags. “I feel so attached to this watch.”

“Well why don’t you keep it then?”

“Actually, Magda’s been asking for a watch. Is that okay? Would you mind?” She is so vulnerable in that moment, my strong, beautiful sister.

“Of course! Magda should have it.” Am I being magnanimous? Not really. I have been and will be moved by other things.

“Mom should give it to her.” Charlotte says, after a moment. Yes, mom should. The kids are as blessed to have their grandmother, nicknamed Jamma, as we were to have Gran, as our Jamma was to have our great-grandmother, Gracchi who adored her in turn. Gran gave us a sense of security, fun, and acceptance in the world that only a grandmother can give. When we watch our children with our mom, we know that she is giving the same thing to our children.

Now that we are mothers, Charlotte and I have come to crave continuity of ancestry. We haven’t lost our need for stories and the symbols attached to them, stories we are grateful that our own mother repeats to our children when asked, over and over. Stories that are more meaningful somehow when a grandmother tells them, like the time Gran ate her dinner under the table because our mom had spilled her milk and Gum had sternly decreed: “The next person who spills milk will leave the table.” And the next person happened to be Gran! The kids howl with laughter whenever this story is told and love that we still have the old jug in which that very milk was served.

Our job is becoming evident, after over a year of work and grief. We need to merge the gifts of our grandmother with our own passion, discipline and creativity. Costume jewelry and a chipped tea set are being used to serve queens and princesses. The old top to her defunct baby grand piano will be repurposed as a coffee table, and découpaged with the old photographs and magazines from the 1940’s that Gran kept. We will refurbish and reinvent, mixing the old with the new, just as we plan to reestablish the vegetable garden behind the house and re-carve the path in the woods to her beloved brook. We don’t have to worry about what will endure. Crosswicks will endure as it is infused with new life.

Her spirit has been blowing through us all along, and I am filled with gratitude that I can finally recognize it. Thank you Gran, for guiding us to process and distill your life the way you did in your writing: creating cosmos out of chaos. In return, we promise to keep moving the story forward.

-Léna Roy, Madeleine's Granddaughter

30 comments:

mediumhappy said...

This is a lovely piece, Lena. My guess is that you are probably much more like your grandmother than you realize. Fortunate indeed for you and for Charlotte that your own daughters will enjoy an upbringing steeped not only in the rich traditions of your grandmother's life, but also in the midst of items that your grandmother treasured. Material things - jewelry in particular - hold within their boundaries an energy and essence that is transferred to them by their wearers, a wee bit at a time, over the decades. So too does that essence transfer to each subsequent wearer, and as that happens, a little bit more of our dear departed becomes a part of us.

I cannot help but think of you and Charlotte each Thanksgiving. What a treat to discover this tribute to your grandmother surrounding the anniversary of her birth this year. I am delighted to see what the intervening years have brought to both of you, and I wish you both every happiness, always.

Dave Giaimo
Canton, Georgia

Beth said...

Thank you both so much for sharing memories of Madeleine and the continuation of her story through you. Even though I never met her, she has been a huge part of my life; her words have helped shape who I am. I'm a music teacher, with an actor for a husband, just starting our own two-part invention, so it's quite easy for me to see my own story in hers.

I envy you that you were known and loved by Madeleine, but certainly not the difficult job of renovating and deciding what to do with all of her things. I recently lost my grandfather, whom I was very close to, and I know it's quite a job.

I guess I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss, for our loss, for the world's loss. I hope very much that just like C.S. Lewis imagines being met and guided by George MacDonald in The Great Divorce, that Madeleine will be one of the first to greet me when I reach heaven.

Beth Whitney
Virginia

Gene Black said...

Wow. What to say? Thank you, first and foremost.
I affectionately call her Maedleine, for I believe she offered her name to me as a gift)
Madeleine meant so much to me. First, as a child, I was sure the Time Trilogy was written just for me. I was surprised that she made my character, Meg, a girl. That really didn't bother me though. Meg got to ride a unicorn. And thus, so did I. Madeleine taught me that even when I am afraid and feeling all alone I can be brave.

I was in my late teens (or very early 20s) when Many Waters was published. Walking into the bookstore "just looking" I was surprised and delighted to see a new L'Engle book. It was the very first hardback book I bought new. (Yes, I have a first edition!) I still cherish it and protect it.

I have purchased many copies of "A Wrinkle in Time" to give as gifts. Every child, from 8 to 98, should read it at least once. These days, a copy of "Walking on Water" stays by my bed for those times that I need a calming but inspiring voice to soothe me to sleep. Madeleine continues to remind me that we are all creators. We are made in the image of THE Creator. For that I am truly grateful.

The Peace of the Lord be always with you, comfort you, and keep you.

Horse Lady said...

Your blog was a joy for my Saturday morning. Your grandmother must have been guiding your hand and heart.

Jane
Mississippi

Anne said...

Lena,

Your letter to us in these thoughts is a treasure. Thank you for the openness that must be so hard for you. I hope it also brings joy to you.

We all have so much to be thankful for, and I hope that someday you and Charlotte both know how much you, too, have given to others, and how thankful we are for your gifts as well as for Madeleine's.

I was fortunate to have known and corresponded with Madeleine, to have seen the coarser underside of faith, and to have seen her tenacious love for you, her grandchildren. The circle is so vast -- a dedication to Charlotte in a book that I was re-reading at the same time Charlotte sent an e-mail to me, for example. Thanks to you, we are all a continuing part of that circle.

Madeleine might well have been the first to acknowledge the mess that you face and the difficulties of tackling it. You have done so much that is so hard. Love is hard, and it is messy. She is fortunate indeed to have grandchildren who love the future as well as they love her and who are willing to do the hard work of bridging the gaps among generations, among people.

Good luck on the hard work of restoring Crosswicks. May the restoration continue its hard but beautiful work so clearly begun in you.

Thank you.

Anne Palmer
Birmingham, Alabama

Pauline said...

Thank you Lena for sharing with us this tender and personal journey of grief, joy and discovery. I too have stood where you are looking over the "stuff" of my mothers life, and trying to decide what to keep and what to toss. You reminded me of the wild and gracefilled vision your grandmother gave to us that takes us beyond what we see into the reality of what is the most real.

Kate said...

What you wrote was beautiful, and it really struck a chord with me because I wrote something very similar about my own grandmother only a couple months ago after reading "A Wrinkle in Time" for what seems like the millionth time in my life! As a child, it was your grandmother's book that fostered my love of science fiction and believing that all things are possible with LOVE because LOVE and GOD are synonymous.

My favorite quote is from "A Wind in the Door". Progenoskis the Cherubim (I hope I spelled that right, I'm going from memory!) when Meg is trying to discern the real prinicpal from his imitators. The Cherubim tells her: "Love. Love makes a person know who they are." That quote has stuck with me in the deepest of troubles and I really believe your grandmother GOT love. She knew love. She was love and it's wonderful that you continue perpetuating her wonderful insights into the subject of LOVE.

God Bless you!!!!!!! Kate

ccj said...

What a gift your blog is! I was eleven the year "Wrinkle" was published. As a coincidence, David- the first poster on this blog - I was born in Canton, Georgia.

I did not discover her other books until I had children of my own. What a blessing it was to me to introduce my most beloved four little people to the author of my favorite children's book. I was thrilled to read "Swiftly Tilting Planet" for the first time to them. I have purchased many, many copies of all of her books and given them to the children
of family and friends and shared her non-fiction with many adults.

When my oldest child entered her teenage angst period it was to "my" Madeleine I turned for advice and impulsively wrote to her. My daughter received the most moving note from her reminding her that behind the worst storm clouds comes the most beautiful of rainbows. Madeleine didn't have to respond, but what a treasure to both my daughter and I that she did!

Rereading the "Summer of the Great-Grandmother" helped me say goodbye when my own mother died in 2005. Even though we never met she has helped me through every stage of my life. I feel I am a better person, a better Christian because of her.

What a woman Madeleine was! Our greatest tributes are what we leave behind. Your grandmother leaves a legacy that is immeasurable.
I always imagined her as very real. I am SO pleased to learn she had a bawdy sense of humor! I just
KNEW she did!

Thank you so much for sharing her with us...

Many BLESSINGS and peace!
Carole Johnson

DoniLynn said...

Thank you for sharing. I love the picture. Having read the Crosswicks journals, I feel like I know your family on some level. Your Grandmother is one of my favorite authors and I am always recommending her works. When a family member dies for a friend, I recommend "The Summer of the Great Grandmother". For my 'neices' who are getting into reading, I recommend starting with the "Wrinkle in Time" series.

A good family friend introduced me to Madeleine's works with presenting me with "House Like a Lotus" for my birthday one year. I was hooked.

She is timeless.

Enjoy your treasures and good luck on the project. You will make it through this as well! :o)

Harold & Karen said...

The description of the cherished granddaughters remembering and validating, is truly heartwarming. Léna's offering is a gift similar to the many that Madeleine presented to the world in the way it allows you to see through eyes of keen perception. Several times this month I have looked at a cloudy, opalescent sky and said "It's a Madeleine L'Engle sky." My family knows what I mean: There is so much beauty to drink in by looking a little longer, a little deeper. The summer garden, after a killing frost, has magic still, with all of its memories and all of its future potential. I wonder if I could see this as clearly if not for the ability of my favorite author to convey her words right to the heart? Her gift is one to truly value, and the endeavor to keep it fresh and alive is worth all the effort. Karen

Rachel said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I really enjoy them and feel a connectedness to your family.
Rachel

Nana2four said...

Thank you for this moving piece! I pray you will keep the blog going. You have so much to share, I can hear bits of your grandmother as you write. You so beautifully put into words the very task many of us have faced as our own loved ones have passed on and we the yet remaining are left to make decisions about belongings which were an important part of who they were and are! I only met your grandmother once at an all day seminar at a church in Philadelphia, she signed a book for me and wrote *for Susan>s future grandchildren* We now have four granddaughters and I will always treasure having the book to read to them!

gail said...

Dear Lena and Charlotte, thank you for your beautiful words about your grandmother. I remembered her on her birthday, and as I have done since I met her, took out my well worn copy of The Irrational Season as Advent begins. "It is the nature of love to create", she writes, and that seems apt as you both create a new life at Crosswicks. I am looking at her picture which I have framed; standing in front of the Cathedral where I first met her nearly thirty years ago. I, too, loved your grandmother; her person, her books, her poems and it was from her that I first heard that I was made of stardust. She would love to know the developing ecological theology; it was so much a part of her before it ecame "mainstream". I am grateful to her for her influence on my spirituality. May you be blessed with peace, joy and love as you continue to make a new home in Crosswicks and welcome the coming of Christ. With love,

Gail Waring, RSM
Albany, NY

Janice P. Dreiling said...

What a joy it was to find the e-mail and the blog early this morning after I finished my daily readings. For many years, Glimpses of Grace has been part of my daily meditations. I must have given 10 to 15 copies of it to friends over the years and just ordered two more today for Christmas gifts.

I loved Josephine's story about the alarm going off. It could have been in one of Madeleine's books!

Even though I cannot say I have read everything Madeleine wrote, I have come close! My favorite is Swiftly Tilting Planet. After that, I would have to say Many Waters, which is such a wonderful example of her positive imagination.

Although I never met her in person, she has had a great impact on my faith and on the way I think about my faith.

Thank you for doing what you are doing to perpetuate your grandmother/your mother's memory.

Janice P. Dreiling
Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Deb Cox said...

Lena,
Thank you for sharing some moments of your life with us. I read it yesterday morning, and enjoyed seeing you with your family through your wonderful anecdotes. Madeleine was indeed blessed to have you and Charlotte in her life. I recall when I had my first child, Elizabeth, she shared with me how important her family was to her, especially her two little grandchildren.
I'm glad you and Charlotte have each other to help with your sad and lovely task. I know what it is like. I'm also glad to hear about Crosswicks. Madeleine and I made a potato salad there once...she was wearing a floppy straw hat and we sat outside to make it for our lunch...after that, we went on a walk, and sat on the star watching rock. I will never forget it.
Deb Cox
Virginia

Gypsy Scribe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gypsy Scribe said...

Thank you, Lena, for leaving us with such a beautiful memory of not only your grandmother but also the world which she lived in. I lost my father a year ago this November so I understand the mix between touching nostlagia and grief you and your family are going through.

Your grandmother is the reason I am a writer to day. Her books taught me how to believe, how to grow in faith, and how to set down on paper "that which asked to be written". I still read "A Wrinkle In Time" at least twice a year!

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

~Jen Chandler
Georgia

Rebecca said...

Dear Lena- What a lovely essay. When I finished reading it, I wanted to read more! Please don't stop writing. Your grandmother is my favorite author of all time, and if you hold at least a quarter of her gift within you (which you definitely do), then you should continue writing. Thank you for the e-mail updates, and please keep sending them.

Peace and Love,
Rebecca Schumann
Washington, DC

P.S. Josephine's vignette about the alarm going off gave me chills. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Hungry Hyaena said...

Thanks for the lovely post, Lena.

matushkadonna said...

Thank you for sharing this with all of us who love your Grandmother's books.

Kayleigh said...

Wonderful, beautiful.
I just have to say that your gran touched my life too and I found in her writing what you said she taught you. She will always remind me to be childish when it comes to my imagination. Thank you for sharing her with me!

Gena said...

Lena,
Thank you for your beautiful words about your grandmother, who meant so much so many of us! Please keep writing, and keeping the connection alive with this wonderful family.

I first read "A Wrinkle in Time" when I was 9, and it tuoched me profoundly then. When I was in my 30's, I shyly wrote a letter to Madeleine - my husband made fun of me for doing it - and she wrote me back the most validating note that I still treasure today. I now have a bookshelf dedicated to her books, and reading your letter just inspired me to not only reread her books, but begin writing again myself!

I'm now 50, have two teenage children of my own, and run an emergency shelter for abused and neglected children. The work can be consuming and often discouraging - it seems I never have time to read at all anymore, much less reflect and write. Reconnecting with your grandmother's writing just gave me new energy.

Thank you, thank you - for continuing the connection. Please keep sharing with us,

Gena, Austin, TX

Johanna Clemence said...

I had no idea that when i googled "Madeleine L'Engle" this morning that i found find such a rich treasure within this site...
not knowing that your "Gran" had graduated to the World Without End; my only hope was to Thank Her for something glorious that is unfolding in me as I read through "A Circle of Quiet"...
I am only on page 44, but God is using this book to unlock things that have been buried, or have never seen the light of consciousness.
I am sad to say that I did not grow up with books, and did not know about your wonderful Gran until now. Yet, through "Your" writing of her & the family, i feel as though you are sharin precious pieces of essance that could only come forth now; in this season...I am blessed to know that her writing mantle is being worn by you & since there are so many facets to who she is (IS ~ she still lives) others in the family will model the other pieces of Gran & Gum.
I look forward to the "New" and yet, it is the Past that connects us.
blessings & joy
Johanna

Diana Latham said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I just discovered this blog today and I am so grateful for the reminders of all the reasons that I loved your grandmother. I never met her in person, only through her books, but she was a friend, mentor, and like a grandmother to me. Thank you for being like her in her vulnerability and sharing special moments that encourage all of us to make cosmos out of chaos.
Diana Latham
Texas

Lani said...

Lena and Charlotte:

Another anniversary. She is "flung from note to note/ impaled on melody/ ...wings caught on the throbbing filaments of light" as she "burns in a blaze of song." While simple readers cannot own the particular joys and sorrows of being directly related, we each carry a bit of her with us. May you continue to find the strength and wisdom to carry your particular part of the melody.

Lani Zielsdorf
Boulder, CO

Lani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev Dr Mom said...

Your grandmother's writings have meant more to me than I can possibly express in this comment. Thank you for sharing your memories of her with us. This is a lovely post. I'm reading it more than a year after you wrote it, and I'm hoping that you'll write more here.

MeredithJoy said...

I realize that I am finding this late, but joyous as it comes just when I was most in need of another influential word inspired by Madeleine. It is when I feel that I don't belong in this world that I turn to my Bible and to her words. Those things together repurpose me and bring me close to my full naming, fully becoming who I was created to be.

You needn't be told again how lucky you are. You know.

I pray that you will both be blessed and know how much this beautiful story and tribute blessed me.

peace be with you.

Annie said...

You can't know how your words here today have brought me clarity. I'm a grandmother of very young children right now. I can relate so well with seeing the world through their eyes, as their parents concern themselves with the raising of well behaved children... I see everything as new. Bugs they haven't seen, acorns that we call "baby trees". It's a most fascinating experience.

Mostly, what you wrote here has somehow made me certain that indulging my desire to write and create is not a waste of time - as it seems that this is part of the woman that I am to be. To imagine your grandmother leaving that out of her life, even if she had never had a thing published, would be imagining a child without laughter, flowers without scent, brooks without sound.

Your grandmother will not only make you better grandmothers... but me as well.

I'm taking a writing class right now that has a support forum that was named in honor of your grandmother. How fitting, and for me... it is a piece of destiny.

StewNWT said...

Thank you Lena for your beautiful prose - your grandmother has helped you write vividly as well as view the world through a purer lens.

I'm probably one of the younger people posting a reply here, in my mid-20's, a medical student in Canada who identifies most with Adam Eddington's character, if not Vicky's regardless of the gender difference. I regret not having the idea to write Madeleine a letter in my younger days.

A longtime fan of her Wrinkle/Wind/Waters/Planet, as well as Austin books, I am only now just discovering some of her adult writings and less well known, but more reflective publishings. I just finished A Circle of Quiet yesterday, and it amazes me as it is not the sort of book I would have ever thought existed, nor one that I would be eager to read, and yet here we are. Starting A Small Rain today.

I have always though that if more of what people talked about God the way Madeleine did - that they could admit to uncertainty, confusion, mystery - the world would be a better place. I too am a lapsed agnostic Anglican, and it's really her books that keep me coming back to the spirit of faith; that prayer remains, regardless of effect, an act of love.

How deeply joyful I feel knowing that you, Lena, and your sister share such passion about making her work your own passion, through your children and your own very illuminating writing.

My thanks for your lovely passage in remembrance of your Gran.

Stewart Mawdsley
Fort Smith, NWT
Canada