Madeleine L'Engle died yesterday

Two days ago, technically, given the time. I only just found out.

I can’t describe how much this affects me. I don’t think there is an author who even approaches the effect that L’Engle had in shaping my adult personality. A Wrinkle in Time is, of course, classic, but I’ve voraciously devoured every one of her texts that I’ve had the good fortune to encounter, and each has left its mark. Her continuation of the sci-fi “Kairos” universe from the Wrinkle trilogy was fascinating, but as much as I loved The Arm of the Starfish et al, I equally adored her “standard” fiction in her “Chronos” books, such as The Moon by Night and A Ring of Endless Light.

I found out later than I might have. Apparently, my friends were keeping the news from me because they knew I’d take it badly. They’re sweet, if misguided. They know that I don’t pay enough attention to mainstream news to find out otherwise.

I have the volumes of The Crosswicks Journal sitting here by my computer. I’ve only started the first. I keep getting distracted by other books and by the rest of my life. I can’t shake the sensation that, if I’d read them, she’d still be here. Ridiculous, of course, but that’s what it’s like inside my head sometimes.

I’ve wanted to meet her for almost as long as I’ve been a sentient creature. I won’t. The sense of loss is overwhelming at the moment. A character in one of her books mentioned that no one had written a poem about a sycamore tree. I wrote one for her when I was twelve, and I always meant to show her. It’s actually not bad, for a twelve-year-old’s writing.

L’Engle was the writer-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. As an atheist, I was always grateful for her perspective on Christianity. I felt, for want of a better word, blessed to have a window into the sort of compassionate and approachable theism that exists in her works. Hers was a Christianity reverent of science and reason, beautiful and tempting. It is ultimately not what I believe, but something to which I am deeply sympathetic.

If I can one day have a tenth, or a hundredth, of the effect that she’s had on the world, I will count my life worth being lived.