Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle (excerpt)

“If I cannot see evidence of incarnation in a painting of a bridge in the rain by Hokusai, a book by Chain Potok or Isaac Bashevis Singer, music by Bloch or Bernstein, then I will miss its significance in an Annunciation by Franciabigio, the final chorus of the St. Matthew Passion, the words of a sermon by John Donne.”

“There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.”

“We write, we make music, we draw pictures, because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing.  And during the writing or the story or the painting or the composing or singing or playing, we are returned to that open creativity which was ours when we were children.  We cannot be mature artists if we have lost the ability to believe which we had as children.  An artist at work is in a condition of complete and total faith.”

“It is not easy for me to be a Christian, to believe twenty-four hours a day all that I want to believe.  I stray, and then my stories pull me back if I listen to them carefully.  I have often been asked if my Christianity affects my stories, and surely it is the other way around; my stories affect my Christianity, restore me, shake me by the scruff of the neck, and pull this straying sinner into an awed faith.”

In response to a question about how to write Christian fiction, L’Engle replied, “I told her that if she is truly and deeply a Christian, what she writes is going to be Christian, whether she mentions Jesus or not.  And if she is not, in the most profound sense, Christian, then what she writes is not going to be Christian, no matter how many times she invokes the name of the Lord.”

“If I understand the gospel, it tells us that we are to spread the Good News to all four corners of the world, not limiting the giving of light to people who have already seen the light.  If my stories are incomprehensible to Jews or Muslims or Taoists, then I have failed as a Christian writer.  We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”

“Now, we are often taught that it is unfaithful to question traditional religious beliefs, but I believe that we must question them continually—not God, not Christ, who are at the center of our lives as believers and creators—but what human beings say about God and about Christ; otherwise, like those of the church establishment of Gaileo’s day, we truly become God’s frozen people.  Galileo’s discoveries did nothing whatsoever to change the nature of God; they threatened only man’s rigid ideas of the nature of God.  We must constantly be open to new revelation, which is another way of hearing God, with loving obedience.”

Michael WeiComment