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In which it’s a two-part invention

According to a 2004 New Yorker article, Madeleine L’Engle’s stories, particularly her narrative memoirs, were not exactly truthful. Her children struggled. Her marriage was not as perfect as reported to the tune of alcoholism and affairs.

During those years, Josephine miscarried, and L’Engle wrote about it, in manuscript. Alan and Josephine asked her to take it out. She did, finally, but she didn’t understand why they wanted her to. Other members of the family say, too, that there were incidents in their own lives—in some cases the usual growing pains, and in others what they considered singular, traumatic events—that L’Engle appropriated and used in her novels or revealed in “The Crosswicks Journal.” Her own troubles, however, were excised or trimmed to fit. “Think of it,” Alan Jones said. “The confirmed construction of the self by means of narrative. Golly, what a job.

Madeleine L’Engle might as well take her place in line: the line up of people who somehow disappoint us terribly with their humanity and complexities, their sins and foibles, habits and hang-ups, imperfections and inconsistencies, even in the very midst of their greatest soul-stirring work.

Ask any pastor who fell from grace, ask any parenting expert that hollered at their kids this morning, ask any vegan sneaking cheese, ask any one who has ever drawn breath – we fail, we are do not live up to our own standards. And we are very good about giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt. (We remember things the way we want them to be remembered.)

I think about that with my own writing life here. People often remark that I am “so open” online (usually with a bit of wonderment or “Oh, I could NEVER do that” particularly when I write about marriage) – and I have to chuckle because if they only knew how little of my life makes it online.

I keep secrets.

Sometimes, I keep secrets because not enough time has passed for me to be able to really write about something. I keep secrets because it’s not yet time to tell that part of my life. I keep some secrets because it would hurt others to have it aired publicly. I keep secrets because only one part of the story can be told but really there is so much more going on behind the scenes.

I keep some secrets because I’m embarrassed or ashamed, others are because they are too dear and too precious for mass-consumption. I keep secrets because my appetite for truth and transparency doesn’t supersede my responsibility to care for the emotional well-being and hearts of others, and because most of our lives don’t occur in a vacuum.

I keep secrets because my family and my friends didn’t sign up to have their lives aired publicly.

I keep secrets because I like having my own life, tucked away, just for me, or just for my husband, or just for my tinies.

I keep secrets because it’s good for me, for my family, for my spirituality, for my sanity, for my soul, for me to keep secrets.

So I feel a bit tender-hearted towards Madeleine L’Engle today. I write through my life, and I write about my life, and I hope I’m true enough.

I hope I’m true enough.

I hope you know that I crop out my unflattering bits in photographs, and I’m rather chubby in real life. I hope you know I am rather dorky, and I swear too much, and my marriage isn’t perfect, and my mothering has a long way to go, and I don’t know how in the world to raise my tinies without spending a tremendous amount of time on my face before God crying out for wisdom and understanding, for patience and peace. I hope you know how far I fall short of my own standards, how slobberingly grateful I am for the Holy Spirit’s movement and grace.

I am sure I’ve disappointed some of you long before this, maybe this is disappointing to know.

I know I disappoint myself daily.

And yet when our heroes turn out to have feet of clay, just like us, we become disillusioned.

But we were the ones that placed them on the pedestal of impossible expectations, then we often work hard to keep them propped up there, and so of course it hurts when they tumbled right off. Sometimes they wanted to be on that pedestal, believing in their own ridiculous hype, but most of the time, our heroes and our patron saints, our spiritual mothers and fathers, didn’t want to be elevated up there, anyway, and are secretly relieved when it comes crashing down.

So go ahead. Be disillusioned, but be grateful for it. 

Now we don’t expect a facade of performance and perfectionism. It’s okay that our heroes are also, well, people. We are all together in this, we are all on the same people of God, gathered, waiting, and walking each other home. Now we dont’ need to have expectations on our leaders or our heroes that we do not have on ourselves.

The greatest thing about being gratefully disillusioned: you look only to Christ, and not to man, and this is freedom. It’s freedom for Ted Haggard and for Madeleine L’Engle, for every preacher and teacher, for every mama and father, for every one of us.

As the company of the gratefully disillusioned, we get to enjoy the richness of relationship with Abba, Jesus, and our Holy Spirit without intermediary or filter. We et to follow Jesus, not the men and woman also on the path with us, reaching out for the hem of his garments. We get to be part of community that is rich and full, and guess what? This flattened hierarchy thing that freaks a lot of the Authority and Submission Crowd out so much is actually pretty awesome.

Be grateful for your disillusionment because it will push you away from revere-ing your own self or your heroes of the faith or the mystics or doctrine teachers or bloggers or missionaries or churches. Now we can learn from one another, as partners and friends, but we are pointed towards the only true example for humanity, the true Shepherd, the true Father, the true Mother, the true God. We can now embrace each other in our humanity, flawed, and moving together towards our true selves with open hearts to God.

The gifts of our heroes as just that: gifts. Gifts from God, gifts of talent and genius, of hard work and dedication, but they are not magic wands waving away skeletons in the closet or their own crippling needs and insecurities.

If we were all disabused of our false notions regarding perfect leadership, our heroes would be released from unrealistic pressure or expectations. We could see their gifts and callings as a blessing to be used in community instead of as an isolating boundary of “The Holy and The Rest of Us.”

Our heroes would be free to receive, too. We would come alongside one another, looking to Christ alone as the author and perfect-er of our faith. And when they struggle or stumble, they could be honest about it because who among us could ever throw the first stone at their precious face?

I share some of my life here – but not all of it.

I am honest – but selective.

I am vulnerable and real – but learning to keep some stories to myself, particularly those of family or friends.

And even being a bit more selective of what photos or stories I share from the tinies because they are slowly crossing that line where their stories are their own and not mine to tell.

I feel like my truest self is expressed here but it’s not my whole self either.

So I hope that when we meet you know that you know me. But I’m also still me – a little chubbier than you might think with normal tinies and a normal life and, really, so much like all of us, just living life and trying to slow it down a bit to love better.

I’m sorry if people had their hearts broken by the story about Madeleine L’Engle in the New Yorker. I’m always so terribly sorry when someone is disappointed or let down by someone to whom they “looked up.” I get that. I really do. (I imagine her family had their hearts broken long before these details emerged. A writer or a hero is something very different from an intimate family member, isn’t it?)

It’s possible L’Engle wrote out of her truest self, even if it wasn’t her whole self or the entire true story. It’s possible that her memoirs deserve ironic air quotes around the word “memoir” and it’s possible that it’s all  a lie.

But Madeleine L’Engle told us herself that something doesn’t have to be true to be a true thing.

But, I asked, is there a difference between fiction and nonfiction? “Not much,” she said, shrugging. It was a long shrug, the wishbone of her shoulders pulled up almost to her ears. “Because there’s really no such thing as nonfiction. When people read your books, they think they know everything, but they don’t. Writing is like a fairy tale. It happens elsewhere.”

This doesn’t change how much L’Engle’s writing has ministered life and goodness to me. I have adopted her as my patron saint, not because of her perfection, heavens, no. It’s because she helps give me a glimpse, a fellow traveller with rumours of the north perhaps, and we’re on the same road, no pedestals are required.

Let her be flawed. That encourages me because I am so flawed. And yet, even in my flaws and secrets, my selective memory and story-telling, I still yearn to see God, to be truthful, to be fearless, to be vulnerable, to learn how to fling open the windows and the doors, and invite every one to the table to receive the measure of grace and goodness and salvation that I have received.

I learn from people who fall from grace, I am so badly in need of grace my own self. I learn about complexities, I grow up, I learn to throw myself on Grace, long before the times for the fall. I learn to point people to Abba, the source of anything good or praise-worthy, and I learn not to believe in my own made-up hype or to construct a pedestal for my own self.

I learn to live like there is no such thing as a secret while still keeping secrets.

And I learn to be grateful for my disillusionment.

 

Some portions of this post were lifted from previous posts. 

 

blogging, books, writing
  • http://twitter.com/corrieaw Corrie Aw.

    Well said, Sarah. Thank you.

  • Missy Kemp

    Oh, Sarah, thank you for saying these good things, with such love and humility.

  • Nancy

    I just picked up a like-new copy of “Two Part Invention” at a thrift store last week, and I’m still going to read it. In another book, she made a distinction about truth that is provable (like laws of physics), and truth that is beyond the realm of provable fact (like love). I’m sure there is some of both in her books, and I’m okay with that, because they always speak to the latter kind.

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

      I knew about one of the affairs when I read TPI and that book is so meaningful to me because of it. To have that kind of love and commitment when the marriage has real issues, is just amazing to me.

      • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

        I know – I knew about this a while ago, too, and read the memoirs with that in mind. I suppose I look at most memoirs as “story-telling’ since they’re so subjective.

        • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

          I didn’t realize it until you just said it, but that’s how I read new memoirs. I always go into it knowing that they are leaving stuff out, and that part of the point is to make themselves look good. And yet with her, I’m looking for biographical information and lessons she’s learned from her life. And maybe that is what she’s given us, and why we all love her so much. We’re gleaning from her lessons and insight, not her facts.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I love that distinction, too, Nancy.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    I try not to idealize my favorite writers, I realize they have flaws and imperfections just like me. While I read the New Yorker piece earlier this morning, I was heartbroken not for myself but for her. She didn’t tell a true enough story of her life, she revised it entirely. And, putting my social worker hat on, I have to wonder at the amount of pain that would lead to such a thing. There are many things I do not reveal in my writing. When I write fiction, I borrow bits and pieces from my own life but I write about my own life, I too strive for true enough when I decide something must be written. The lines can be blurred, yes. But I was so sad to see how very blurred those lines were for L’Engle and the way it impacted her loved ones. I still love her writing and the way it’s impacted me over the years. The article won’t take that away from me.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Me, too, Leigh. I suppose that’s just it: we can be sad FOR her but not ABOUT her. You’re very wise in this. Because it is sad. She had a poor family life, no example of how to “be” a family, was left on her on constantly. So much to navigate, right?

  • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

    One, I’m amazed at how fast you whipped this out, even if you did recycle material. I couldn’t even tell.
    Two, this is a really good perspective on it.

  • http://lisadelay.com/blog Lisa Colon DeLay

    What a challenge to be both human and read publicly. I too feel for L’Engle. I think some separation is healthy, and some edits are needed, even more now with the inventions of immediate digital connections, FB, blogging,…I don’t think she mucks about online like us, does she? (even harder for her then)

    good stuff, my friend.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yep – I always remain VERY thankful to many periods of my early life were long before social media existed!

  • http://www.kelleynikondeha.com/ Kelley Nikondeha

    I love Madeleine and the stories she wrote. And I know it’s hard to tell the truth without filleting others, since we see through our own eyes and not theirs. But I just read the New Yorker and laughed – she’s human, too. But she was a creative force and helped me imagine things about faith and art and life all woven together. Love her, cracks and all!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Amen!

  • Lalania

    It is good to be reminded every now and then that our ‘heroes’ are people too and not one of us are perfect. I remember very clearly the day that someone fell off that pedestal that I had put them on and have tried very hard ever since not to put anyone up there again.

  • http://twitter.com/katiengibson Katie Noah Gibson

    Oh, it is hard not to canonize our heroes. Madeleine is one of mine, and when I found that New Yorker piece a few years ago I was stunned, and then actually angry. But yes, she is flawed, like me, like all of us. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but such a necessary one.

    Leonard Marcus has just published a book of interviews with 50 people who knew Madeleine (including Cynthia Zarin, author of that New Yorker profile), and it is a complicated portrait. Fascinating, difficult and beautiful all at once.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      That does sound fascinating! I can’t wait to read it.

  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    You are EN FUEGO today, Sarah Bessey!!!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      ha!

  • http://twitter.com/ssrebelsam Samantha Rebel

    I read this several years ago, and it was sad (especially about Bion, oh!) to read but I understood. I think everyone realizes having a writer in the family is complicated indeed. There is always the temptation to revise, edit, to shine up the pretty parts and tuck the dark parts back in the corner, under the bed. To me, Madeleine did so much good with her writing for so many of us. She was used by God. God, we know, uses the most unlikely of vessels, and calls the least qualified. Of course she wasn’t perfect, and of course I am trusting, as a wise man told me long ago, “you have to believe that everyone is doing the best they can”. I do love the perspective of her editor and her granddaughter on her “alter ego” Vicky Austin. So interesting.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      That was terribly interesting, right? The whole vicky Austin thing, all of it. Fiction writers are way more interesting to me.

  • http://bohemianbowmans.com/ Jessica

    Oh Sarah, that “hero complex” that we talked about.

    I feel like you sat on my couch and wrote this. It’s never been more relevant. <3

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I like sitting on your couch. :-)

  • Jessica Stock

    I love every word of this. I had read the New Yorker article too, and felt the same reaction- “let her be flawed.” Yes as a person guilty of so many of my own flaws, I relate most to the broken and imperfect too. It reminds me of T.S.Eliot, “do not let me hear of the wisdom of old men but rather of their folly.” I learn more from the honesty of others than I do their seeming perfection.

    • Jessica Stock

      After I read this comment I need to clarify- I am not meaning that we keep no secrets. It is a delicate balance, to be sure, between honesty and oversharing.

      • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

        Is it ever!

  • JennaDeWitt

    a couple of things:

    1. Your “realness” is exactly what we like about your writing, Sarah. It’s impossible to pedestal because it is so honest. That’s a courage, perhaps, that many of these memoir writers lack… (*winces as someone reading this gasps) It reminds me of Rachel’s post today where she says the junior high students liked her because she was “just like them.” :) That’s what we treasure about both of you bloggy girls too. We don’t see some idol to love/hate for her perfection, we see ourselves.

    2. This post really hit me hard, not because of L’Engle, but as a writer myself. Just yesterday I wrote a magazine column about pedestals. The pedestals that destroyed much of my teen years and took the past 5 years to heal from. It’s only part of a very complicated, painful story that probably falls more under spiritual and emotional abuse in some cases and just typical teen drama in others, but in choosing to write it about this topic, I have volunteered to simplify and edit it down, telling it without blame on anyone else. Only representing my faults in the situation. That is not easy, but it is my part of the story to tell. Maybe the whole story will be told someday, when it is farther away in time and distance, but for now, I have to respect and honor others who have fought hard to leave that season in the past. That’s sometimes the hardest part, isn’t it? Taking the shame for yourself while leaving out the details that can publicly hurt those that hurt you. But, even if they don’t deserve it, we have to give them the grace of privacy, of not having the microphone we have.

    Bonus: did anyone else notice how she mentioned L.M.M.? Thought it was… fitting, for lack of a better word, though Montgomery’s idealized happy couples never claimed to be memoirs of her own (sad, dark) life.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      That is the hardest part, absolutely. YES. And yes, I thought of LMM, too. Reading her memoirs, as a rabid fan-girl, was disheartening but more because it made me so sad *for her* instead of for me.

  • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

    Oh how I love that you tied the L’Engle piece in the New Yorker with the Christianity Today article on Ted Haggert. I just finished reading a beautiful memoir about a family only to discover that mere months after it was published, the author and his wife divorced. The memoir touched me deeply, and then I was immediately forced to reevaluate its merit. Did he mean anything he wrote? Should I toss the book? I discovered that this author I so admired is human, and that like me, he can write the words and then eat them, too. We want to judge others’ love, but the harsh reality of our humanness is that our love is imperfect because we are. I guess that means we can all write memoirs, that we can all speak up AND learn to be quiet, and that there is only one love that reigns.

    Thank you for this, Sarah. Your words always challenge me and remind me of His love for us.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Bethany. I’m with the imperfect, for sure.

  • http://twitter.com/SavedSister7 Wendy Douglas

    You know the thing of it is for me…I don’t really put people on a pedestal as it pretty much guarantees a fall at some point. It is more like walking on a path instead. Some are walking ahead and some beside and some even behind. And at some time or another we all stumble, don’t we? I, too, guard pieces of my life as too sacred to write about. Especially those about my guys. I so love what you shared about that – that at some point it is their story to tell. Thankful as always for your words friend. Blessings.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I love that, Wendy – walking ona path together.

  • http://twitter.com/EstherEmery Esther Emery

    My mother was a writer. I’m in Josephine’s position these days, trying to tell my own story without drawing too much attention to the (sometimes glaring) differences between my version and my mother’s published version. The mother absolutely is the keeper of the family narrative, and what is most destructive is when the children are dependent on a falsified narrative for their sense of security and wholeness. It’s like building a fault into the system. And, frankly, it sucks. So I say keep keeping your secrets, Sarah. You are adored anyway. Never any need to be more or less than what your children can depend on.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      So interesting and sad, Esther. I’m sorry that it’s sucked. And that’s a fascinating way to put it, a “fault in teh system” – I hope I am doing it well but I wonder sometimes. I do wonder. Thank you for sharing this here.

  • http://twitter.com/ctrieschmann CatherineTrieschmann

    I’m bit conflicted about this–not your meditation on heroes and pedestals–but the New Yorker article and L’Engle’s decision-making in painting an idealized portrait of her family life. When I wrote the essay on L’Engle for RHE (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/valor-madeleine-lengle), I purposefully avoided discussing or linking to the New Yorker article, b/c it feels a bit like gossip, frankly. Is it really our business that her husband had affairs? And yet, the piece does throw some doubt on her ethical rigor as a memoirist. Of course, she was writing pre-James Frey and all the rest, before memoir was even a publishing phenomenon, and it’s very possible that these issues weren’t even in her consciousness. Mainly, I wish I could hear her thoughts on the ethics of writing memoir now that it’s up for public debate. I’m sure they would have been piercing and well worth listening to.

    • http://twitter.com/ctrieschmann CatherineTrieschmann

      And one thing further, since we’re on the topic… A Severe Mercy, a book I loved as a young woman, is another memoir that you can find some muck about if you start digging. I think the danger of these “idealizations” is that they white wash redemption stories generally. And I have to ask, do redemption stories need white washing and what’s the effect of this white-washing? It makes me cynical, I admit. I find myself less willing to buy into “I was lost and then was found” narratives completely. Gosh, there’s so much more to say about these issues, but you know, life calls… Thanks for the provocation!

      • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

        Yeah, Severe Mercy was one of those for me that I struggled with accepting because it did seem contrived somehow (blasphemy, I know). Do redemption stories need white-washing? I want to say no, because even that phrasing lends itself to the whole “washed as white as snow” thing for Jesus and our sins but yeah, SO MUCH to think about here!

        • pastordt

          I cannot tell you how grateful I am that SOMEONE ELSE had that problem with Severe Mercy. Everyone raved about that book and I really did not like it. At all. But then, I’m weird.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I loved your essay at RHE’s so much, Catherine. I agreed then (already having read the “expose”) and thought you did justice.

  • http://www.redeemingthetable.com/ Kamille Scellick

    I just read this article and the Ted Haggard one. From L’Engle’s point, I would hope that I would guard my families’ stories well. Being able to share enough but not the squibbles–the nitty gritty. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idolizing of others and how all of us can fall prey to making something our religion. Then, when we fail, or that other person does–we lash out. We lash out on ourselves or lash out on the other–lacking the grace found in the writings of the sand. Thank you for being you and letting you be shown here, but also holding some of it back too.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I know – it’s so hard. I often think of that old quote, “the family with a writer is doomed.” I hope my tinies aren’t writers someday. ;-)

  • Tara_pohlkottepress

    my brother is a professional musician, doing gigs on Letterman and Conan and the likes. But more than just being a musician, he is a storyteller. The tales he weaves can be 75% fiction and 25% fact, OR vice versa. Truthfully, it has been hard for me when these stories are regurgitated by the press to tell the tale of our family. our past. So I get this article. I get the pain of it all. But I also know the way my heart rises when I read her words. When she has pulled back the veil of stars for me and shown me just how wide this universe can be. Now writing myself, I too know, like you so artfully and beautifully state that I do my own storytelling. My own cutting and pasting, bending and shaping to fit my heart and my intent into words. I take her broken. I take her and love her and think “oh thank God. Her too? Me too.” So glad to hear this about you as well. We are all these broken bits and pieces but sometimes you only need a sliver of a mirror to see your reflection shine through.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Such an interesting connection, Tara. I love that idea of “cutting and pasting, bending and shaping”. I love that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=660308637 John D Blase

    Thanks for these words, Sarah. I’ll no doubt continue to put people on pedestals, not so much because I want to worship them as I believe what they’ve said or done is good and true and lovely. Maybe its not such much the pedestal as the height of the pedestal, maybe its the difference between Madeleine on a shelf and Madeleine on a throne. Of course, that may just be hogwash.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Shelf or throne – love that imagery. No hogwash, you don’t deal in that.

  • http://gretchenlouise.com/ Gretchen Louise

    Love this. Thank you. For keeping secrets and for telling others you keep secrets. For if we did not, we could rarely (if ever) be both authentic and wise at the same time.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I hope so.

  • http://www.natashametzler.com/ Natasha Metzler

    So, so true. And so, so good.

  • http://dlmayfield.wordpress.com/ D.L. Mayfield

    i think you know i was one of the sad ones–i was the one reading the crosswick chronicles as a road map to be like her: fabulous, witty, wise, successful, spiritual–and a perfect mother and wife to boot. shame on me for putting anyone on that pedestal indeed.

    i think you also know i am struggling with how to tell all the sad stories that envelope me in one way or another, but aren’t truly my own. let l’engle have her flaws, then, and let me learn from it. but i am a firm believe that while we are all subjective in some way or another, it does mean something. so the best we can do is be honest about it.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      No shame, DL. No shame, not ever. I learned this years ago by having my heart broken by leadership failures, one after another after another. I’m always wondering how to tell the sad stories, too, and I’ve made missteps.

  • http://twitter.com/RonnicaZ Ronnica Z Rothe

    I’m real on my blog…to a point. I think it is completely sane not to share everything with everyone.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      “completely sane” – love that phrasing.

  • Glenda Childers

    Ah, we are all flawed!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Amen!

  • Maya Resnikoff

    A fascinating read, and a piece that I really agree with. Having just re-read A House Like A Lotus, which is, among other things, a manifesto against putting people on pedestals, this just feels so perfectly on-topic for me… I love when things fall together like this.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I haven’t read that one, Maya – sounds interesting!

  • http://briebarton.blogspot.com/ Brie B

    so the thing i overwhelmingly think when i read your post and read the new yorker article is that, for me, it matters little. i read a two-part invention when i was engaged, it gave me something to position my marriage toward. doesn’t actually look like that? no. does it still have merit because it reflected what perhaps a good marriage could look like? yes.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes, exactly.

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  • http://twitter.com/TinyandFierce__ Cassie Chang

    “Let her be flawed. That encourages me because I am so flawed.”

    Indeed. I’m just starting to get into L’Engle now (I didn’t read Wrinkle in Time as a kid as my science fiction love remained firmly in the realm of Star Wars), and I’m waiting for my copy of Glimpses of Grace to arrive in the post. The knowledge of who she was will make the writing all the richer, methinks.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I think so, too, Cassie.

  • http://twitter.com/DianaELark Diana Lark

    This reminds me of Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”. If you haven’t read it, i highly recommend it. If i had to pick the one book that has changed my life the most, it would be that one: it changed the way i write, it changed the way i read everything (especially the Bible), it changed the way i think, the way i listen, the way i talk. It’s essentially a whole novel exploring concept of truth: story-truth versus happening-truth. In what ways are each truth important and which one is the most important, the most enduring? Really incredible read.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      You know, I have NOT read it. That sounds fascinating. I can’t wait to add it to my queue at the library Thanks, Diana!

      • http://twitter.com/ctrieschmann CatherineTrieschmann

        For what it’s worth, that book is a masterpiece. You probably haven’t read it b/c you’re Canadian.
        : ) (it’s about vietnam)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=619666120 Michelle Wirth

    I need this, and I especially welcome this today. Thank you.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I often need to remind myself of it, too.

  • pastordt

    Yes and amen. I remember being a bit shocked when someone told me there was this ‘big expose’ in the New Yorker about L’Engle. But when I read it? I nodded a whole lot. Of course, her life wasn’t all put out there for us to read. Of course, she idealized it a bit. But what she wrote was ‘TRUTH’ in the most comprehensive form of that word. And it was truth that was a huge part of ‘saving my life’ during a long, long stretch of time. I am forever grateful for her, for her stories, both fiction and non, for her sturdy example of being true to the gospel and true to oneself. I am fairly certain that she was a difficult person – somewhat haughty, highly intelligent and very aware of that truth, and hard to know. I met her once and heard her speak in person twice. And I was a bit awestruck, to tell you the truth. But I hope I never forgot that she was a human being, with very muddy feet and that I gave her the grace to be so. Thanks for this lovely tribute and for the reminder that there truly is only one Savior for each of us. Patron saints? Oh my, yes there are so many. But only one Jesus.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Your last line there is SO GOOD, Diana. I agree.

  • Debby Hudson

    I am thankful I found your blog a month or so ago. It’s now one of the few on my Google Reader.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Debby – I appreciate that.

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  • stephsday

    A wonderful response to that New Yorker article. I’m reading the Crosswicks Journals books right now and knowing L’Engle’s imperfections doesn’t make me want to read them less. Instead, I offer her grace, learn from her strengths and weaknesses, and stand back to admire her writing.

    P.S. I keep secrets online too – things that are too private, too painful, too intimate, too wonderful to share with strangers. Just like you, however, I do feel that I share my “truest self” on my blog – just not my whole self. There’s a difference.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/karrilee.aggett Karrilee Aggett

    Wow… LOVED this… the one word that came to mind as I read every word = Honor! My how you ‘get’ it… and in the keeping of secrets there is just So. Much. Honor! I found you via Kimberly Coyle’s post on Writing True and I am oh so glad I did!

  • Brittney

    Ahh, yes. Anne Lamott, Anais Nin, Einstein, Rob Bell, Mary Oliver, etc. My patron saints, my adopted mothers, fathers, sister, brothers. Flawed and convicting, imperfect and life-inviters. Calming the panic of loneliness and despair by simply saying: me too, this way, maybe. If we were to wait for a perfect soul who did everything they said and hoped and taught and pointed toward, we’d be waiting forever. Test everything, keep the good, despite it’s imperfect origin. Which is that much more of a lesson for our selves to be a lamp on a stand, rather than under a bowl, waiting indefinitely for everything to be made right. Well said, a gracious thanks. I’ve never actually read L’Engle, but I’m intrigued and will begin the googling now.

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