Madeleine L’Engle died in September of 2007. I still miss her. She has enrichened my spiritual life immeasurably. She was the main presenter at a symposium I attended at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis c. 1997. Being with her and actually meeting her was a thrill. When she was near the end of her life, I checked the obituaries regularly and, on this one day, there she was, gone. Even though expectant, I missed her immediately, with a sense that the universe was changed. But recently, I had something of a reunion with her that was ever so fun and rich. Here’s what happened:
At the end of the Lenten season several weeks ago, an appeal went out a few days prior to my women’s monthly circle meeting for someone to present the program. If nobody responded, the hostess for the evening, a high school math teacher, might have us doing arithmetic. Some responded they’d rather do math than give a program, but I always have a program up my sleeve. Shoot, I was “born in the briar patch” of giving programs. “Sure,” I said. “Be glad to,” confident in the knowledge that the facilitator is only part of what happens; between me and my circle sisters, I knew we’d have something unique and meaningful.
A couple hours before meeting time, I grabbed Madeleine’s The Irrational Season, a treasure of spiritual reflections, original poetry, and rich anecdotes framed by the liturgical church year. I turned to Lent; actually, I think Lent fell out in my hands. The book is my second bible, worn and tattered from using it for studies and classes and personal devotions for over 30 years. Ah, yes, I remembered as I perused the chapter. For Lent, Madeleine used the Beatitudes.
So we started the program by me reading the “Blessed are the…” part, and the group completing, “…for they shall be…” That worked beautifully. Next, we listened to the verses set to music by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Perfect touch. Then, I read a brief excerpt of what Madeleine had written about each one, pausing each time for responses from the group. Great participation, from our hearts, from the day. The final quotation from Madeleine was, “There is the power of life and death in his mercy, and it is good to remember this each time we receive the power of his mercy in the bread and wine.” A short poem by Ann Weems, “Communion,” from Kneeling in Jerusalem, wrapped things up beautifully. Many thanks to all these women for a very cool program!