Friday, July 23, 2010

an alphabet of grace

"Both life and death are present for me in the house this summer. I look at Mother, and think that if I am to reflect on the eventual death of her body, of all bodies, in a way that is not destructive, I must never lose sight of those other deaths which precede the final, physical death, the deaths over which we have some freedom; the death of self-will, self-indulgence, self-deception, all those self-devices which, instead of making us more fully alive, make us less." (Madeline L'Engle, The Summer of the Great Grandmother, 53)

"The times I have been most fully me are when I have been wholly involved in someone or something else; when I am listening, rather than talking; cooking a special, festive dinner; struggling with a fugue at the piano; putting a baby to bed; writing. A long-dead philosopher said that if we practice dying enough during our lives we will hardly notice the moment of transition when the actual time comes. But I am far from a saint, and I am seldom able to practice consciously this kind of dying; it is not a do-it-yourself activity. I know about it only after it has happened, and I am only now beginning to recognize it for what it is." (Madeline L'Engle, The Summer of the Great Grandmother, 53)

"Did Mado ever have the sudden, intemperate rages which sometimes hit me, and which are produced by what seems completely inadequate causes? She surely had reason for rage and resentment, and yet these are qualities which are never mentioned in regard to her. If they were there, she kept them to herself, and healed them in her own way, with prayer. I have her battered Bible, which Mother had rebound for me. It was much read, much marked, and there are stains which came, I think, through private tears. Perhaps through it she will teach me an alphabet of grace. She had that spontaneous quality of aliveness which illuminates people who have already done a lot of their dying, and I think I am beginning to understand the truth of that." (Madeline L'Engle, The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, 179-180)
trying again, by grace,

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