Just last week an amazing woman died. Madeleine L’Engle, the author of the well-loved A Wrinkle in Time and over 60 other books, lived well to the amazing age of 88.
As I rushed into work today, through the library, and on my way to the stairwell, I stopped and then backed up. A book was displayed in the “new releases” section that caught my eye: The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L’Engle. It’s beautiful: the cover, the photo of her, the pages…and the poems. Just one shared here:
The Bethlehem Explosion
The chemistry lab at school
was in an old greenhouse
surrounded by ancient live oaks
garnished with Spanish moss.
The experiment I remember best
was pouring a quart of clear fluid
into a glass jar, and dropping into it
grain by grain, salt-sized crystals,
until they layered
like white sand on the
floor of the jar.
One more grain – and suddenly –
water and crystal burst
into a living, moving pattern,
a silent, quietly violent explosion.
The teacher told us that only when
we supersaturated the solution,
would come the precipitation.
The little town
was like the glass jar in our lab.
One by one they came, grain by grain,
all those of the house of David,
like grains of sand to be counted.
The inn was full. When Joseph knocked,
his wife was already in labour;
there was no room even for compassion.
Until the barn was offered.
That was the precipitating factor.
A child was born,
and the pattern changed forever,
the cosmos shaken with that silent explosion.
…a living, moving pattern / a silent, quietly violent explosion. Isn’t that beautiful?
What might that look like today, for me? Madeleine L’Engle embodied that reality – offering exploding life in every word, every thought, every poem, every book. Oh, that we might all have her courage, her beauty, her language, her heart. May we be willing to be those precipitating factors…in memory of one who was herself.