Madeleine L’Engle was born in 1918 and spent her formative years in New York City.  At age 12, she moved to the French Alps with her parents and went to an English boarding school. She went to Smith College and studied English and continued her own creative writing. She graduated with honors and moved into a Greenwich Village apartment in New York.

L’Engle worked in the theater and published her first two novels during these years. She met Hugh Franklin, her future husband, when she was an understudy in Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard.  Her writing won John Newbery medals, the National Book Award, and achievement awards in her field of writing and education. She lived through the 20th century and into the 21st and wrote over 60 books before her death at age 98.

A charmed life you think?

She told how suffering a “lonely solitude” as a child taught her about the “world of the imagination” that enabled her to write for children.

Even though it ended up winning the 1963 Newbery Medal and became a beloved classic, A Wrinkle In Time was rejected 26 times by publishers.

Madeleine L’Engle almost gave up writing when she turned 40 because of discouragement over rejections. “With all the hours I spent writing, I was still not pulling my own weight financially.”

Later, she suffered a “decade of failure” after her first books were published.

Her son, Bion Franklin, died from the effects of extended alcoholism.

Lengle’s published journals recount sorrows, disappointments, death, struggle, and hope.

In 2013, a crater on Mercury was named after L’Engle–she would have loved that.

Even when others reject you. Even when resources are thin. Even though it takes a long, long time, take a page from Madeleine L’Engle’ s life-book and keep going.

 

Becoming Madeleine L’Engle: A Biography will be released in February 2018.

Emerge

This spring, my favorite word is EMERGE. It means to become known or visible–from Latin “to come to light.”

In winter the ground is hardened and brown. Trees lose their leaves and stand bare. We long for color in our landscapes. And when the calendar declares it is spring, we do not always have any proof.

Except, beneath the frozen earth, things are stirring. Roots reach and stretch out stiffness, rhizomes multiply, buds swell until, in startling moments,  green emerges. We blink—is the tinge an illusion?

Then comes the tender green of spring. Leaves uncurl. Blossoms burst. Pollen flies. The earth is not dead, but alive. Not entombed, but arisen.

Notice, that emerge comes from what was planted. Most of what emerges is not new. It comes from depth and that which lives through winters. The world is not dead in winter. Spring brings to light what already formed.

We live in a society that equates emergence with youth…emerging talent, emerging scholar, emerging poet. But life emerges from maturity. Do you see? Life emerges from you!

3 Things Wrong With Family Values–No, 4 Things

 

  1. The Definition. There is no real definition of Family Values. Articles, blog posts, and entire books have been devoted to the topic. There may be some core, central values, but they are amended by each individual, rendering a definition useless and discussion heated. The old, “Well, everyone knows what it means,” does not apply. Before entering into a sermon or dialog with others it is wise to find common principles and understanding.
  2. The Politics. When a particular political party lays claim to family values, they are eroding the entire basis for respect. If something is a Value, Moral, or Truth, it is universal in nature applying to the whole of a society, all political parties, all religions, all genders. To claim to be the exclusive followers of Family Values just plain stinks of self-righteousness. “Standing on the street corners to be seen by others,” or wearing a lapel pin do not equal Family Values.
  3. The exclusion. Family Values, as practiced by many, is an attempt to exclude others–those who are in some way different. It is much easier to spend time with those who have similar views–indeed, similar appearances. We can make our inside jokes, poke fun at others, and not allow them into our circle. It is easier to close ourselves in after 6:00 for “family time.” And what happens to the world outside that closed door? It is in darkness, and that darkness may come knocking. Aren’t we called to be light not hidden under a basket–or behind a door?
  4. The Community. Those who practice the exclusivity mentioned above actually undermine nuclear families because engagement in the community is both the groundwork for families and its support. Without community, the family is fragile and easily broken. Except for the knuckleheads who claim to have “built the cabin they were born in,” we recognize the need for community support. The librarian who remembers your favorite mystery series, the pastor who knows your heart and gifts, small study groups, football fans, a neighborhood, our schools are all part of the community.

Why is this important to us now? We have raised our families.

Well, first of all, because women often bear the brunt of expectations and criticism for family values. If we speak out, we are not being “submissive,” If we have a career, we are accused of neglecting family. If we a stay at home, we are seen as being unsupportive. It’s not too late to demonstrate what a true family is–the Family of God. It is not too late to open that door to others who may be different. And seriously, we outlive men most of the time–have you ever seen rows of widowed men in the churches? No, it is row upon row of women. Women who are often lonely, afraid.  Women who somehow lost a spouse–whose children live across a continent–women who are not married. Women who are invited to Thanksgiving but not Christmas “because that is for family.” We are called to be salt–let’s get out of the shaker.