Striving to maintain some inner quiet, I casually took from the shelf a book by Madeleine L’Engle. Pure serendipity. It’s one of The Crosswicks Journals, which I’ve shoved to the back of my mind for years, albeit they’ve been my all time favorite reads. But how apt it is to flip through The Irrational Season, the third installment of The Crosswicks Journals, at this Christmas time. Oh what joy to discover Madeleine L’Engle all over again.
Famous for her Newbery Award winning young adult novel A Wrinkle In Time, L’Engle was a prolific writer who had 63 publications to her credits. Her works span from young adults to adults, fiction, science fiction, memoir, journals and poetry, with non-fiction books on faith, art, family, and humanity. Yes, I say humanity, because L’Engle’s essays depict her strive to be human, and how her faith has defined the essence in her quest.
The Irrational Season comprises L’Engle’s ruminations on the significant events in the liturgical calendar. And of course, it is Advent and Christmas that I dwell upon for my seasonal read. This time, my reading has stirred in me a deeper appreciation of her insight and eloquence.
Art is for me the great integrater, and I understand Christianity as I understand art. I understand Christmas as I understand Bach’s Sleepers Awake or Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; as I understand Braque’s clowns, Blake’s poetry. And I understand it when I am able to pray with the mind in the heart… I am joyfully able to affirm the irrationality of Christmas.
… Christmas evoked in me that response with makes me continue to struggle to understand, with the mind in the heart, the love of God for his creation, a love which expressed itself in the Incarnation. That tiny, helpless baby whose birth we honor contained the Power behind the universe, helpless, at the mercy of its own creation.
Cribb’d, cabined, and confined within the contours of a human infant. The infinite defined by the finite? The Creator of all life thirsty and abandoned? Why would he do such a thing? Aren’t there easier and better ways for God to redeem his fallen creatures?
And yet, in His most inscrutable, incomprehensible move, the One who called forth the universe from nothing, the Light and the Word, became flesh and drew near to us, to partake life as mortals knew it, and at the end, willingly go through an excruciating experience no mortals had ever known. Impossible! Utterly irrational! And yet L’Engle embraces such an unimaginable scenario:
I live by the impossible… How dull the world would be if we limited ourselves to the possible.
And how grateful we ought to be, that such an accepting spirit pervaded in Mary’s heart and mind as well…
This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d had been no room for the child.
But now is the hour
When I remember
An infant’s power
On a cold December.
Midnight is dawning
And the birth of wonder.
‘Reading The Season’ Posts over a Decade:
Photos: Except the book cover, all photos taken in Israel by Arti of Ripple Effects, November, 07. All Rights Reserved.