September 7, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle RIP


This dear woman died yesterday, but I only heard the news this afternoon. I had the joy of working with her from time to time on the Diocesan Close -- she was working on reorganizing the Library, and I was the part-time Diocesan Convention office coordinator, in addition to my half-time service as pastor of Saint Paul's, Yonkers.

One of my fondest memories of her is of a day I celebrated the weekday Mass in one of the Cathedral's apsidal chapels. Madeleine was a regular at these weekday gatherings, and always a joy to see. This particular day, just as I began my sermon, a very loud organ recital began in the nave. (Cathedral scheduling, right?!) As I shrugged in some frustration, Madeleine gathered the other few present for the liturgy up to the front row, shouting, "It's not a Eucharist without the sermon!" and I delivered my sermon in a literal huddle, all of us gathered arms on shoulders. I can still see her upturned radiant face and sparkling eyes, with the sunlight from the east-facing stained-glass windows washing across her eager expression, yearning for and savoring my poor words that midday as if they were precious draughts of water in the desert.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Tobias Haller BSG

11 comments:

Locust-Eater said...

from the NY Times:

“Why does anybody tell a story?” Ms. L’Engle once asked, even though she knew the answer.
“It does indeed have something to do with faith,” she said, “faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.”


I will miss Ms. L'Engle, whose faith was focused enough to include mitochondria, and big enough to span universes. Adieu.

LE

Grandmère Mimi said...

What a lovely story, Tobias. I sent my visitors over here to read it.

Tobias said...

Thank you, Grandmère Mimi. Madeleine simply loved telling stories and listening to stories (and sermons!). She was one of those "good listeners" who maintain eye contact and have expressive faces that reveal the inner thoughts.

Of course, we will one day, I hope, share with her, in the place where all the stories are gathered, all the tales combined, in a joyous telling and retelling, all our little stories collected and compacted into the one great story of God's love for all creation.

Linda McMillan said...

That's a great story!
Lindy

Diane said...

yes, thank you for this. I remember A Wrinkle in Time, and Walking on Water. This is a lovely remembrance.

Erin said...

I'm saddened by the news - thank you for your personal memories of a wonderful writer.

rick allen said...

You were certainly lucky to have known her.

I've always wondered--and if anyone can tell me, I'd appreciate it--the origin of the "lorica" that frames "A Swiftly Tilting Planet," the one that begins, "At Tara in this fateful hour I place all Heaven with its power...." Mrs. O'Keefe calls it Patrick's Rune, but I've never seen it in quite the form it appears in the book. Did Ms. L'Engle write it, or modify it, or use a true ancient incantation translated elsewhere?

KJ said...

Thanks for sharing this account, Tobias. As an avid reader who in the fifth grade fell in love with Madeleine from the first reading of "A Wrinkle In Time", I always hoped to meet her. Now I guess I just have to wait a bit longer.

Jan said...

Thank you for this lovely remembrance of Madeleine. Having the image of her leading the remnant to gather around you for your sermon is comforting.

Bryan+ said...

Thank you, Tobias, for a moving tribute to a gracious and talented Christian lady.

Walt said...

Thank you for your remembrance. I love "A Wrinkle In Time", but my favorite L'Engle work is "Many Waters". It shows the power of Ms. L'Engle's imagination to envision the biblical world of Noah. Very powerful. I think I need to log off so I can start reading it again.