A friend, Jeffrey Overstreet, has written a warm tribute to Madeleine L’Engle, who died Thursday of this week.
This is the Madeleine for whom my daughter is named, a woman with an imagination as large as the sky. I’ve shaken her hand with a few warm sentences, heard her speak, and when she visited my town, I was traveling for a commitment I couldn’t cancel—the bookstore owner had Madeleine sign a book “for Madeleine or Brendan, whoever is born first.” I stood in her office at St. John the Divine, on a day when she was out of town.
Just yesterday I was rearranging books near my bed, making way for my graduate studies books, when I tucked two volumes of Madeleine L’Engle in, though she’s not on my reading list. I’d heard she was in hospice—I’ve saved these two volumes, as yet unread, to have “fresh word” from her, later.
When we do meet in earnest, we will have more time to talk. I’ve been looking forward to that conversation for a long time.
I plucked A Swiftly Tilting Planet from the shelves of the Farmland Public Library at age 15, and after reading it in a swoon, I kept moving the book to the adult reading section, saying grownups needed this book most of all. For many years of my life, I reread Swiftly Tilting Planet any time my spirits flagged, or my life felt unimportant, or once a year during Christmas break. A recent reading reminds me of the book’s power, which is just the same as when I snuck it across the line between children’s and adult books at my hometown library.
When a date is named for her memorial celebration at St. John the Divine, I will post it here.