Lauren Bacall once told us that she earned her own of her wrinkles. She called them her “time lines”.
Wonder if she ever read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time? The author was known for her fascinating perspectives on science, art, story and faith. She was also a lightning rod for controversy—too Christian for some, too unorthodox for others. Somewhere in the middle was a complex woman whose embrace of paradox continues to be a beacon for generations of readers struggling to reconcile faith and science, art and religion, sacred and secular.
In A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in Time, (Zondervan, $19.99) Sarah Arthur explores L’Engle’s spirituality and what her story means for each of us, now, in our own unique moment and within a larger narrative. Arthur recounts stories about L’Engle from friends and family as well as interviews with writers and thinkers who have been profoundly shaped by L’Engle’s writing.
“I’m painting a portrait of one of the spiritual giants who has gone before us,” writes Arthur. “And I’m encouraging a new generation of readers to seek and trust her as a spiritual guide. To borrow imagery from A Wrinkle in Time, we’re Meg Murry and she’s Mrs. Whatsit, traveling through time to challenge and encourage us.”
Arthur traces L’Engle’s spiritual journey through seven key movements including her self-proclaimed lonely childhood, her fascination with science and faith, her writings as a whole—specifically A Wrinkle in Time—and her influence on generations of artists who now embrace art as a spiritual vocation. Arthur also explores L’Engle’s paradoxical propensity to blur fact and fiction, and the impact of that tendency on her closest relationships.
Charlotte Jones Voiklis, L’Engle’s youngest granddaughter and literary executor, penned the foreword for A Light So Lovely. In it she recalls crying the first time Sarah interviewed her. “We talked about my grandmother’s life: her habits, milestones and challenges, and what we each knew to be her impact on others. As we spoke, what moved me to tears was Sarah’s willingness to look at Madeleine and accept her as a full and flawed human being; an icon and iconoclast, not an idol.”
For a new generation that has known nothing but the increasingly polarized and contentious climate of contemporary religious discourse, L’Engle’s embrace of paradox is a welcome path forward. Arthur writes, “Let’s strike a match, light a candle. Let’s illuminate the life and legacy of this extraordinary woman such that we experience both the grace and the struggle that helped her share a generation and beyond. Because ultimately, it’s not her own light we’re drawn to, but the light of Christ she lifted up, however imperfectly, to the world. By knowing her better, we might better understand our own particular darknesses, in this unique chapter of American history, and how we’re called to be light-bearers too.”