Friends always have a lingering, lasting effect on us. Their kindnesses remain with us long after they have departed. Their example inspires us. Their words continue to impact our thinking. They intrude upon our daily concourse with a gentle but certain regularity. Remembrance has thus always been an essential element of the friendships of great men and women, a kind of eternal trophy of a gracious endearment.
~ George and Karen Grant in Best Friends
We have lost a friend this week in the passing of Madeleine L’Engle. She was eloquent. Provocative. Challenging. Perceptive. We will remember her. Her words will continue to impact our thinking. I’m often uncomfortable with her theology, but I press on because she got the essence of life right and she could express it with magnificent grace. When something reminds me of Madeleine, I call it L’English. It’s one of the most delightful words in my personal lexicon.
One of my favorite L’Engle books is her collaboration with Luci Shaw on Friends for the Journey
. In this book they explore together the topography of friendship.
“Our contact was never superficial; it started out, as it has continued, with God talk and book talk, the elements of the kind of friendship we both find most satisfying.”
You may or may not be familiar with Luci Shaw. I’ve had a fondness for Luci Shaw since my childhood, because she was one of my dad’s favorite poets. He stopped me one day to listen to one of her poems from her first collection, Listen to the Green.
The book is a quilt of many colors, shapes and textures of mystic, sweet communion. Some chapters are written by Madeleine, some by Luci. Interspersed throughout the book are poems of both writers. A few chapters are transcripts of conversations between Madeleine and Luci. It is such a gift to get a glimpse of the inner workings of their friendship. I’ve read several books of this sort, but this is by far the richest, fullest expression of friendship that I’ve read. Friends for the Journey is a book to take down on a regular basis, a book to share with the friends in your life, a book that will nourish your soul.
“One of the most important things about friendship
is that we allow the friends of our heart to see us,
not as we would like to be
(none of us is what we’d like to be),
but as we really are,
with our weaknesses, flaws, and faults.”
~ Madeleine L’Engle
“In the funeral service in the Book of Common Prayer these words are said: “Remember thy servant, O Lord, according to the favor which thou bearest upon thy people, and grant that, increasing in knowledge and love of thee, he may go from strength to strength, in the life of perfect service.”
I believe that. Our identity, our self, our soul, goes on growing to a deeper fullness in love of God, leading us toward the kind of maturity God planned for us in the first place. For now, that is all I need to know.”
~ Madeleine L’Engle 11-29-1918 – 9-6-2007