Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Wrinkle In Time (And on my forehead)

Do you folks remember/know Madeline L'Engle, the woman who made your trip to the book fair in elementary school the highlight of the year (along with the stamp collecting packages and choose your own adventure books)?

I am reading two of her books right now--actually, I'm looking at the stack of books on my bedside table, and I'm thankful for the visual reminder that this is what I love--this is what I have lived for--the searching soul putting heart to page to mouth to ear to soul to heart.  To copy down the quotes that become the invisible tattoos that define my affections and their holiness (thank you, Keats).  I love what I love for a reason.  And I will continue to love these searching words until I understand fully why God put them in my heart to care for.  But this is a tangent...

In Madeline's Reflections on Faith and Art, she shares the soulfood of quotes found in her own stack of bedside books, and now I pass them on to you in the hopes that they ring bells that continue sounding in your own work (as writers, artists, songsmiths, growers, newlyweds, missionaries, teachers, mothers, worshippers, searchers):

"To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery.  It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist."  -- Cardinal Suhard

"You should utter words as though heaven were opened within them and as though you did not put the words into your mouth, but as though you had entered the word."
-- Martin Buber

"You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures.  Don't let that concern you.  It's your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly, to be prepared for mistakes, which are inevitable, and for failures."
-- Tchekov

"You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now.  Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody.  There is only one single way.  Go into yourself.  Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write.  This above all -- ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night:  Must I write?  Delve into yourself for a deep answer.  And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple "I must," then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it."
-- Rilke

The affections of the heart are holy...

The big questions I'm thinking about tonight:  Why did God make me to love what it is that I love?  And how do I love these things properly, as He would will, not as the preferences and passing fancies of this "self" but as the signs of a God who loves me so much that He would give me, in abundance, this beautiful and particular life?

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