It sat on my bookshelf for weeks before I actually got around to picking it up. The delay was mainly due to my busy schedule of grad school, work, church, getting things ready for France, and some semblance of a social life. But once I did pick it up, none of that mattered. It didn't matter that I was quickly approaching finals week with little time to spare. It didn't matter that in mere weeks I'd be flying to the other side of the world for the summer.
It's hard to put into words what this book did for me. If you are a musician, writer, artist, or otherwise creative person, I sincerly implore you to get your hands on a copy, especially if you are feeling drained creatively or suffering from "writer's block," regardless of medium. This book invites you to be a dreamer; to believe things are possible that we have long forgotten: like how to walk on water.
The book begins with beautiful imagery of just being. Something, I think, we all have a hard time reconciling in our frantic little worlds. Busyness always seems to take precedence over being, and I think that's why I kept reading the book, even in such a busy season of my life. It refreshed my soul to hear that it is ok, more than ok, it is good to take time to just be.
"I sit on my favourite rock, looking over the brook, to take time away from busyness, time to be. I've long since stopped feeling guilty about taking being time; it's something we all need for our spiritual health, and often we don't take enough of it...When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening." pp. 2-3
And L'Engle talked about what it means to be a Christian today (even though "today" was 1982 and the internet/facebook/twitter/hulu/instagram/smart phones/and pinterest weren't around yet). She quoted lots of famous people and less than famous people and sometimes she didn't know who she was quoting, just that their words had impacted her at some point in her life. She collected and recorded all of these quotes in one special notebook throughout her life. I think I need a notebook like that.
L'Engle probably wouldn't be described as Evangelical, but she had her own way of sharing her faith. She fashioned her life around wisdom from the words of Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard. He said, "To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist." p. 26 I don't think any of our lives would make sense if God did not exist.
Later in the book, she likened that "living mystery" to a sort of light. "We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it." pp. 140-141
I think my favorite quote in the book was from Rainer Rilke, a poet. She is talking about how to know if you are truly called to write, to be an artist. "You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all--ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: Must I write? Delve into yourself for an answer. And if this should be affirmation, if you must meet this earnest question with a strong and simple 'I must,' then bind your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and testimony to it." pp. 29-30
Fill in the word "write" with whatever your artistic medium. Must I paint? Must I make music? Must I act?
Must I write?