Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle is a beautiful book to read during Advent when you are quietly waiting and assessing your writing life. L’Engle makes me question my motives. Am I being honest? I don’t just write for love. I also write for money. Am I listening and getting out of my own way? Yes and no, but I need to do this better. Spend more time in quiet and prayer. I love how Madeleine equates the sense of writing in flow to the same as when in contemplative prayer. I never made the connection before but it can be a similar state. Do I want the children to see this? What a wonderful question. Sometimes when I look at movie previews and I see something isn’t appropriate for our children, I realize it isn’t appropriate for me either. I love that about her books. They are for everybody. And this book in particular is a book for all Christian writers as she explores the relationship between faith and art. It is a book I’ve savored and marked up and I suspect I will come to it again and again.
Without further ado, let me share a few quotes to whet your appetite:
“I have to try, but I do not have to succeed. Following Christ has nothing to do with success as the world sees success. It has to do with love.”
“We are all asked to do more than we can do.”
“The child is aware of unlimited potential, and this munificence is one the joys of creativity.”
“Creativity opens us to revelation.”
“So we must daily keep things wound: that is, we must pray when prayer seems dry as dust; we must write when we are physically tired, when our hearts are heavy, when our bodies are in pain. We may not always be able to make our “clock” run correctly, but at least we can keep it wound so that it will not forget.”
“Time is to be treasured, worked with, never ignored.”
“Choice is an essential ingredient of fiction and drama.”
“What if – the basis of all story.”
“My stories affect my Christianity, restore me, shake me by the scruff of the neck, and pull this straying sinner into an awed faith.”
“Remember – the root word of humble and human is the same: humus: earth. We are dust. We are created; it is God who made us and not we ourselves. But we were made to be co-creators with our Maker.”
This book reminds me why I write. Writing and family life brought me to Jesus, and when you possess this great Treasure, you cannot keep it to yourself. My thoughts echo L’Engle’s: “If I understand the Gospel, it tells us that we are to spread the Good News to all four corners of the world, not limiting the giving of light to people who already have seen the light. If my stories are incomprehensible to Jews or Muslims or Taoists, then I have failed as a Christian writer. We draw people to Christ … by showing them the light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
Beauty, then, will save the world.
Thanks to Blogging for Books for the review copy. Cross-posting this review to Amazon.
I love this book SO MUCH. Aren't her reflections on Mary's Fiat amazing?
She is one of my favorite Christian writers.
Madeline L'Engle was one of my favorite authors as a child. I should read some of her books for grown ups. The quotes are great.
Another thing about Madeline L'Engle, in addition to her brilliance, is that she was unable to find a publisher for a long time. She was "too different." A beacon for us all-- dare to be different.
I will seek this book out. I'm not a Christian and it doesn't matter for I think the fundamentals apply to all. Love her illustrations. They always cheer me up and remind me of childhood, the beach, and apples (strangely)!
Faith, she truly is amazing!
Johnell, you will enjoy her memoirs very much.
Mirka, so true. She struggled with Wrinkle because publishers didn't think it was a children's story but children get it.
Claudine, you are right that this book is a great inspiration for any writer. I was an atheist when I first read it.
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