Madeline L’Engle was always one of the three creatives I wanted to be when I grew up. I loved her characters; there was something very true about them, both how textured they were but also the fact that who they had the potential to be as children didn’t necessarily play out in adulthood; that sometimes the choices we make to go through one door or stave off one disaster quash or kill other important parts of us. L’Engle’s books challenged me as a second grader (when some parts were frankly over my head) and continued to challenge me as I grew. They still blow me away every time I read them.
But most of all, from an early age I admired her spritual integrity. Her characters were religious without sermonizing or evangelizing; religion was just the lens through which they saw the world, just as much as their scientific understanding and curiosity. That balance of holding on to what’s meaningful to you without trying to sell it or push it on the audience was something I very much wanted to emulate as a writer.
I had the good fortune to hear her speak twice in high school; both times I found her a charismatic, grounded woman, comfortable with her own power. She could electrify an audience in person as deftly as she could with her written words. She will be sorely missed.