Moments of Real

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Last night as we went to bed in an eerily silent, waiting world, I picked up L'Engle's Circle of Quiet, wishing for a quiet place of my own. Sometimes, hearing someone else speak with hope truth that I already know reminds me I am not alone.

Here are some excerpts from what I read:

"The world we live in, the world we are able to know with our intellect, is limited and bounded by our finiteness. We glimpse reality only occasionally, and for me it happens most often when I write, when I start out using all the 'real' things which my senses and my mind can know, and then suddenly a world opens before me." (p. 93)

If you ever had any questions about why I blog...

She writes,
"An author is responsible for his characters in much the same way that a parent is for his children, or a teacher for his students. Sometimes this manifold responsibility weights heavily on me; I want to retreat entirely, lest I do damage. But we have to accept the stark fact that we not only can but inevitably will do damage....

"The kind of responsibility I'm thinking about is both difficult and dangerous, especially where it affects children. But we're living in a difficult and dangerous world, and no amount of sticking our heads in the sand is going to make it any easier. Western man has tried for too many centuries to fool himself that he lives in a rational world. No. There's a story about a man who, while walking along the street, was almost hit on the head and killed by an enormous falling beam. This was his moment of realization that he did not live in a rational world but a world in which men's lives can be cut off by a random blow on the head, and the discovery shook him so deeply that he was impelled to leave his wife and children, who were the major part of his old, rational world. My own response to the wild unpredictability of the universe has been to write stories, to play the piano, to read, listen to music, look at paintings - not that the world may become explainable and reasonable but that I may rejoice in the freedom which unaccountability gives us.

"We sat there in the Authors Guild, looking out the windows to a stricken city, paralyzed at that time by a strike of fuel-oil deliverers in the midst of a flu epidemic; people were dying because of this strike, dying for fringe benefits, mostly people in the ghetto parts of the city where landlords don't care whether the buildings are heated or not. Only a short while behind us - and ahead of us - were other strikes, garbage-collector strikes...; student strkes; teacher strikes; phone-company strikes; welfare-recipient strikes; transit strikes; you name it, we've had it - or we will have it. I sometimes wonder if the ancient Romans were as aware of their crumbling civilization as we New Yorkers can't help being of ours; did they, too, sometimes sit around a candlelit dinner table with friends, and wonder how many times they would be able to meet thus; did they, to, draw closer together because of the anger and dark outside?" (pp. 95-96)
She continues,
".... I wouldn't mind if being a Christian were accepted as being the dangerous thing which it is; I wouldn't mind if, when a group of Christians meet for bread and wine, we might well be interrupted and jailed for subversive activities; I wouldn't mind if, once again, we were being thrown to the lions. I do mind, desperately, that the word 'Christian' means for so many people smugness, and piosity, and holier-than-thouness. Who, today, can recognize a Christian because of 'how those Christians love one another'?

"No wonder our youth are confused and in pain; they long for piosity or sociology, neither of which meets their needs, and they are introduced to churches which have become buildings that are a safe place to go to escape the awful demands of God."(p. 98)
She writes moments later of the writer's response to reality:
"To be responsible means precisely what the word implies: to be capable of giving a response... A writer who writes a story which has no response to what is going on in the world is not only copping out himself but helping others to be irresponsible, too... 'You know there's more than just the story. If what I have to say is right, or if it is wrong, I'm responsible for it, and I can't pretend that I'm not, just because it's difficult.'

"To refuse to respond is itself a response. Those of us who write are responsible for the effect of our books. Those who teach, who suggest books to either children or adults, are responsible for their choices. Like it or not, we either add to the darkness of indifference and out-and-out evil which surround us, or we light a candle to see by.

"We can surely no longer pretend that our children are growing up into a peaceful, secure, and civilized world. We've come to the point where it's irresponsible to try to protect them from the irrational world they will have to live in when they grow up. The children themselves haven't yet isolated themselves by selfishness and indifference; they do not fall easily into the error of despair; they are considerably braver than most grownups. Our responsibility to them is not to pretend that if we don't look, evil will go away, but to give them weapons against it." (pp. 98-99)
I fell asleep to the echoes of a song taken from Psalm 4: "I will lie down and sleep, and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety. I will lie down and sleep in peace."

The sun rose. I heard the sounds of my husband moving around the house. My daughter slept through the night. I woke, and the Lord sustained me.


dancebythelight said...

Gosh, I just adore L'Engle's writing! I'm probably one of the few people, though, who've read tons of her non-fiction but non of her fiction!

Lindsay Christine said...

Thank you for sharing...her words and point of view bring so much comfort and affirmation sometimes. You're a blessing.

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