I read a book for work last night set in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. I have zero interest in traveling anywhere even remotely challenging (though I do like to car camp). I prefer to travel in my imagination. So, in further honor of our beloved Madeleine L’Engle, here are a few of my favorite quotes of hers, typed as tears stream down my face with gratitude. I don’t think I’ve ever cried like this over the death of someone who wasn’t known to me personally.
From A Wrinkle in Time:
‘Wild nights are my glory,’ Mrs. Whatsit said. ‘I just got caught in a down draft and blown off course.’
‘Well, at least wait until your socks are dry–‘
‘Wet socks don’t bother me. I just didn’t like the water squishing around in my boots. Now, don’t worry about me, lamb.’ (Lamb was not a word one would ordinarily think of calling Mrs. Murry.) ‘I shall just sit down for a moment and pop on my boots and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.’
But Meg could not be silent. She pressed closely against Aunt Beast, but Aunt Beast did not put her protecting tentacles around her. ‘I can’t go!’ Meg cried. ‘I can’t! You know I can’t!’
‘Ddidd annybodyy asskk yyou ttoo?’ The grim voice made Meg’s skin prickle into gooseflesh.
She burst into tears. She started beating at Aunt Beast like a small child having a tantrum. Her tears rained down her face and spattered Aunt Beast’s fur. Aunt Beast stood quietly against the assault.
‘All right, I’ll go!’ Meg sobbed. ‘I know you want me to go!’
‘We want nothing from you that you do without grace,’ Mrs. Whatsit said, ‘or that you do without understanding.’
Meg’s tears stopped as abruptly as they started. ‘But I do understand.” She felt tired and unexpectedly peaceful. Now the coldness that, under Aunt Beast’s ministrations, had left her body had also left her mind. She looked at her father and her confused anger was gone and she felt only love and pride. She smiled at him, asking his forgiveness, and then pressed up against Aunt Beast. This time Aunt Beast’s arm went around her.
(I could go on to the end of the book, but I’m trying to exercise some restraint.)
From A Wind in the Door:
…’Mr. Jenkins Two-‘
Again [Meg] shook her head. ‘I wasn’t quite as sure about you at first. But wanting to make everybody happy and just like everybody else is just as bad as Mr. Jenkins three manipulating everybody. Bad as Mr. Jenkins is, he’s the only one of the three of you who’s human enough to make as many mistakes as he does, and that’s you, Mr. Jenkins One–‘ Suddenly she gave a startled laugh. ‘And I do love you for it.’ Then she burst into tears of nervousness and exhaustion. But she had no doubt that she was right.
Size does not matter. You can hold them all, Charles and Calvin and Mr. Jenkins and the burning sphere of the newborn star-
[Meg] cried out. ‘I hold you! I love you! I Name you. I Name you, Echthroi. You are not nothing. You are.
A small white feather which was not a feather floated through the void.
Please go back and read the poem that follows immediately after.
From A Swiftly Tilting Planet:
They moved through the time-spinning reaches of a far galaxy, and [Charles Wallace] realized that the galaxy itself was part of a mighty orchestra, and each star and planet within the galaxy added its own instrument to the music of the spheres. As long as the ancient melodies were sung, the universe would not entirely lose its joy.
Charles Wallace’s eyes as he returned her gaze were the blue of light as it glances off a unicorn’s horn, pure and clear and infinitely deep. ‘In this fateful hour, it was herself she placed between us and the powers of darkness.’
I think we all know that his words don’t just apply to Mother O’Keefe.
Thank you, Madeleine.
PS–there’s a great roundup of the coverage here.