Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An Acceptable Time

In the past year, I've been slightly moved by the deaths of significant figures like William Styron, Kurt Vonnegut, and Luciano Pavarotti--just enough to pause, soak in how they'd changed me, and then carry on. But last week, when I heard about Madeleine L'Engle's death, I couldn't process it so easily. And I'm not ready to be done with it, because I've figured out that any time I spend "with" Madeleine L'Engle usually results in my becoming, if only for a short time, a more honest, loving person.

The night I found out Madeleine L’Engle had passed away, I slept with the windows open. The moment I found out, I sent the article from the New York Times to everyone I knew that might share in the paying of respects with me. And within a few hours of finding out, I’d picked up one of her Crosswicks journals, wanting to be reassured that she’d still speak to me from her new location. I was relieved to find the connection still strong. Over the past few days, I've been going back through her books, looking at the passages I'd marked. Below are a couple of excerpts I found particularly fitting for this time of remembering:

“I look at Mother, and I think that if I am to reflect on the eventual death of her body, of all bodies, in a way that is not destructive, I must never lose sight of those other deaths which precede the final, physical death, the deaths over which we have some freedom: the death of self-will, self-indulgence, self-deception, all those devices which, instead of making us more fully alive, make us less.” (Summer of the Great Grandmother)

“What I think is that if we’re still around after we die, it will become more like those moments when we let go, than the way we are most of the time. It’ll be--it’ll be the self beyond the self we know.” (A Ring of Endless Delight)

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