Madeline L’Engle, what’s it like to tesseract?

Long ago, when I still worked as a secretary, I was feeling pretty blue about not writing. Then I picked up Madeline L’Engle’s book “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.”

It didn’t exactly transform my life. But I do know this book rewoke the spark of creativity within me. I knew then that I wanted to write again, really wanted to write. I just needed to find out how. And a year after reading it, I wrote my first poem in years.

Immediately after I finished the book, I really wanted to express my feelings to Ms. L’Engle. I wanted to tell her how she inspired me, how I read her books when I was a kid, how reading WoW made me realize that I can be a Christian and still write good stories. I even started writing an email to her. But then I went onto her website and saw that she was having health problems, and that she was only taking letters. So I planned to write her a letter. Soon.

I put the book back on the shelf. And promptly forgot about it.

That letter will never be written now. Aside from the usual feelings of loss that occurs when a favorite author dies, I also feel deep regret. All these years, I could have connected with a fellow writer. Granted, I don’t know how sick she was, if she would have gotten around to reading my letter or not, but at least I would have been able to talk to her, writer to writer. But back then, I didn’t know the value of the written word. I thought I did. I really did.

But thinking about writing and actually doing writing are two separate things.

I suppose I could go the existential route. Write a letter to her and burn it, which, in my opinion, will accomplish nothing. Honestly, do you think Madeline’s going to care about anything down here on earth. Right now, she’s living her books; she’s tesseracting all over the place. She’s sitting at the feet of God. What’s a burnt letter from a fan going to do for her? It’s idolatry, something she would never, ever, condone.

So how do I rid myself of this regret?

I keep doing what I’m doing now. I write. But I also will write to authors who influence me–let them know their works made me think or inspired me. For so long, I’ve put authors up on a pedestal along with celebrities and stars. Unapproachable, and therefore unattainable. That’s kind of like idolatry too. Writers are simply people with stories to share. And they really like hearing back from readers. At least, most of them do.

Rest in Peace, Ms. L’Engle. Your books were such a great inspiration to me. I know one day we’ll meet in heaven, and I’m sure that we will have a lot to talk about.


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