Friends for the Journey

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


12 thoughts on “Friends for the Journey

  1. This is a beautiful post and it’s obvious you have come to know this author well. I definitely plan to get Friends for the Journey, just from reading this. And I love the Grant quote at the beginning, too. It expresses so well what I’ve never been able to put down in words. Thank you.

  2. Ditto!  Excellent book choice for review this week.
    I, too, was taken by their example of friendship, noting the intimacy they shared without agreeing on every.single.thing.
    And while, like you, L’Engle’s theology made me squirm (does she really believe in reincarnation?), I recommend her books regularly.
    Blessings on your Saturday,Dana

  3. Hello Ms. Mater,I like your site. You worked hard to make it simple yet elegant. The pictures are a nice touch. I see that authoress Madeleine L’Engle  passed away recently. So has Pavarotti. That’s the kind of world that we live in now, a world where sickness and death are a part of life. Fortunately, it isn’t going to stay this way much longer!I like to write articles about God and religion on my site. I want to help people to really get to know God, especially in these troubled times. Jesus gave us a message of hope that is in the Bible: 14 “When the good news about the kingdom has been preached all over the world and told to all nations, the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) (CEV) I hope you get a chance to look at them.

  4. Hi, greetings from Va!I’m so sorry to hear about the loss but please be reminded that it’s only temporary… God will unite u two again.I see that you love writing and reading. I love those too only that I haven’t really devoted much time in reading. I envy your patience and your eagerness to read much. I looooooove thinking on issues myself. Anyway, it was nice reading your blog and I’ll come and visit you again.So what were some of the things you disagreed on the theology of this friend?

  5. I am getting this book – soon. And maybe for a Christmas gift, too, for my best friend.
    I don’t know a lot about Ms. L’Engle’s theology. I figured after reading the afterword to A Wrinkle in Time that she was probably an evolutionary creationist. And I know that her journey back to God was struggle from reading A Circle of Quiet. I plan to read more of her books soon, though.

  6. Hey there…I’m Court [a.k.a. woo_cha]!i dont know you, but everybody loves a random comment and eProps! feel free to hit me up for a good chat anytime. Lol, I’m so random. Peace out!+2 eProps

  7. “L’English”– i love that! You are gifted with the language–
    i still remember my introduction to “A Wrinkle In Time” when spending my summers in my local library in Portland, Oregon. Magical. That’s when i discovered “Pilgrim’s Progress” and the Narnia books, too. Think i need to re-read all those treasures. Those were the great days of my childhood.

  8. She was such a lovely author.  A Wrinkle in Time is a fabulous book.  It’s a continuing disappointment to me how people like Princess Diana(despite her charity work, she just wasn’t that special, I’m sorry) gets an entire televised celebration, while someone who has affected so many lives more greatly got a single column in my paper.  I love L’Engle’s work, and I hope the internet community can celebrate her life’s work in a way the news media refuses to do.

  9. As a new shy 7th grader, my books were my friends. This worried my mom. She thought I shopuld have ‘real’ friends. As an adult, I understand now that it wasn’t really Betsy, Tacy and Tib, Laura on the prairie, Lucy or Reepacheep that were my friends, but Maud , Laura and Jack…and of course, Madeleine, that were sharing themelsve with me through these characters. The authors were my friends.
    In the same way, Pavarotti, Jim Croce, Bing Crosby and other great performers have sung to me personally…
    My friends

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