Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy 93rd Birthday Madeleine L'Engle, my Gran

Dearest Gran,

You were born on this day in 1918. You would be 93. Thank you for your legacy of love, laughter and eating the impossible for breakfast. Thank you for continuing to write, against all odds, and for being such a powerful mentor to those who were moved by your work and your process.

Thank you for showing me the way, just by being you.

We are celebrating your birthday with the launch of your brand new website, where we hope both new and old fans will get to visit and celebrate you too.  Countless of people will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time in February: you are remembered, you are loved.

You have been a beacon of hope and an inspiration to many - not just writers, but all kinds of artists, scientists, mathematicians. Many of us spend much of our youth folding ourselves up into pretzels, trying to please others and to conform to our ideas of what our family, friends, society want us to be. We are afraid of not being loved. You have helped us come into our own.

“On Camazotz we are all happy because we are all alike. Differences create problems. You know that, don’t you, dear sister?”
            “No,” Meg said.
            “Oh, yes, you do. You’ve seen at home how true it is. You know that’s the reason you’re not happy at school. Because you’re different.”
            “I’m different, and I’m happy.” Calvin said.
            “But you pretend that you aren’t different.”
            “I’m different, and I like being different.” Calvin’s voice was unnaturally loud.
            “Maybe I don’t like being different,” Meg said, “but I don’t want to be like everybody else either.”

Thank you for inspiring me to be my own writer, and not try to channel somebody I can't  be.  And to mentor other young writers, to show them that "originality" is finding their own authentic voice. To pay it forward.

“Who have our fighters been?” Calvin asked.

“Oh, you must know them, dear,” Mrs Whatsit said.

Mrs. Who’s spectacles Shone out at them triumphantly, “And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.”

            “Jesus!” Charles Wallace said. “Why of course, Jesus!”

            “Of course!” Mrs Whatsit said. “Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They’ve been lights for us to see by.”

            “Leonardo da Vinci?” Calvin suggested tentatively. “And Michelangelo?”

            “And Shakespeare,” Charles Wallace called out, “And Bach! And Pasteur, and Madame Curie, and Einstein!”

            Now Calvin’s voice rang out with confidence. “And Schweitzer, and Ghandi, and Buddha and Beethoven, and Rembrandt and St.Francis!”

Thank you for teaching us that we can be fighters too by embracing our authenticity, our creativity, our gifts; that we can fight darkness just as well as anybody else; that we can be the heroes and heroines of our own lives.

xoxoxo I miss you, and I love you more-than-tongue-can-tell.



  1. Lovely post today and I know how much your must miss your grandmother. Mine has been gone for 32 years now and still the hole she left refuses to be filled.

    The beacon your Gran cast still falls on many lighting the way. In a couple of weeks I am going to introduce her to a group of people who have never heard of her...imagine! An online group that discussed her works has been reignited this fall to reviving her works. Her ideas are still fresh.

    Happy Birthday, Miss M!!!

  2. Yay Bookie - I am so glad that you will be leading the way for some new folks!

  3. Wrinkle in Time is one of my all time favourites as is the author. She is on my Top Ten list of authors who inspired me. www.loisdonovan/blog

  4. Thank you for stopping by Lois! Isn't WIT amazing?

  5. A beautiful post in remembrance of your grandmother. . . . I was blessed to be a part of a writing retreat at Holy Cross in 1998. She had been my favorite author from the time I was 10, so it was a highlight of my life to get to learn from her in person. It was the year of the ice storm and we sang lots of hymns while we waited for the power to return. :-)

  6. What a beautiful and special memory Laura! Gran and I used to love thunderstorms - great excuse for snuggling and singing!

  7. Happy Birthday to your grandma! We had a friend who knew her, and took us to meet her. I remember her great presence, and her piano! BTW, took a look at your books. Edges sounds cool. Nice cover too.

  8. Thanks Catherine - her presence was HUGE! And the Steinway - did she tell you that Rachmaninoff played it?

  9. You left one "fighter" out of the list--Madeleine L'Engle! Her theology is so clear and so logical and so pure that I take it for my own. She did so much to keep the Light in the world through her writing and her life. Bless her.

    I'm so reminded of the relationship between Camilla and Raffi when you talk about her. Such a special one.

    Happy birthday, "Gran"!

  10. And the website looks great, Lena!

  11. Your grandmother had a huge influence on me growing up. I've read all of her young adult novels and many others and have collected her for years. Meeting her was one of my life goals and I remember crying at my desk the day she died. What a wonderful lady! Look forward to celebrating WIT this spring!

  12. Dear Dear Lena! How beautiful the legacy... How proud you make Madeleine as well as the rest of us...you took the torch she passed to you and you are running beautifully with it!

  13. Thanks everyone for your comments, memories and well wishes! xo

  14. You already know how much your grandmother's work meant to me, especially as a child. And getting to say Happy Birthday to her on your blog feels almost mystical. You inspire me as well, Lena.