Sunday, September 9, 2007

Love, morals and science fiction

Madeleine L'Engle died on Friday at the age of 88. I just found this out as the NPR clip came up on my google home page. What a way to find out that one of your heroes has died.

I love Madeleine L'Engle. I was first introduced to her books with A Wrinkle in Time, her Newberry award winning young adult novel. It tells the story of Meg Murray, an awkward teen who, together with her younger brother Charles Wallace, saves their father with the help of science and love.

Madeleine L'Engle was my friend. No, I have never met her. But her books have carried me through some of the most important times of my life. I remember reading them (and rereading them) when:

  • I was an overwhelmed student at BYU, looking for comfort and familiarity. I would often escape to the Juvenile fiction area of the HBLL. Many students probably assumed I was an El Ed major doing research but no, I was just seeking comfort from my favorite books.
  • I was married. After Jacob was born, Nick and I started reading books aloud to each other. We read the whole Wrinkle in Time series aloud to each other in bed at night, and then we would talk about it. I look back on that time and I smile, thinking that I had the opportunity to hare these books with my best friend.

I look forward to the time when I can read these books aloud to Jacob, and our other future children. I want to share with them the beauty and faith that Madeleine has, and I want them to know that they can find comfort in these books too.

One of my favorite lessons from Madeleine comes from her book A Ring of Endless Light. The protagonist's parents advise the family to pray for a friend when something distressing happens. The teenager in the story rebels, citing many instances where prayer didn't help anything. Her wise mother reminds her that prayer wasn't meant to be magic. Suzie then asks her why we bother with it. Her mother replies "Because it is an act of love."

When I related to Nick that Madeleine L'Engle died, I said, "Oh, how sad. Madeleine L'Engle died." And then after a moment I realized, "No, actually, it is not sad at all. Madeleine is probably happy. She had such great faith and love that her death isn't sad. She is probably really happy right now."

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