All posts tagged: Madeleine L’Engle

The Deep Rhythms of Life

If you are a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. I try and remember that old adage when I consider things I read or hear.  Given my career, training and perspective, I often see historical overtones, even—perhaps—when they don’t exist.  So with that grain of salt, I’ll note that over the course of a recent weekend, I took part in three conversations that all struck me as narratives somehow important and related. The first was not really a conversation. But it felt as if I was on the listening end of one as I went on a Friday night to hear Lucinda Williams and the Drive By Truckers in concert.  Both were great, but it was the music and between-songs patter of Lucinda Williams—her stories, if you will—that made me think about the way in which we can break out of our pasts and stand out from what is expected. Williams has been writing and performing emotionally devastating lyrics for four decades. But she also takes courageous stands against racism, sexism, and hate in …

My 2018 Year-End Reading List

As 2018 draws to a close, I’m sharing this list of the books I read over the past twelve months.  Since returning from sabbatical early in 2016, I committed to reading more, and to seek out a wider range of works beyond my normal histories and biographies. Here are the treasures I found on my reading shelf this past year. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I began the year with a work of fiction. In this at times perplexing yet ultimately satisfying novel, Saunders builds off the fact that in February 1862, just a year into the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie dies of typhoid fever. It is known from contemporary accounts that the President went several evenings to stay in the crypt with his son’s body in Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery. Saunders takes that bit of knowledge and turns it into a rich story populated with dozens of spirits who reside in the Bardo, which is the Tibetan Buddhist name for a transition period between death and rebirth. Tears …

I Am Still Every Age That I Have Been

It was a big week in our household, as we acquired a new hip and celebrated a birthday.*  As a small child, you may have received a new puppy on your special day.  Others years may bring clothes for college or gifts for the new apartment. Later, you might rejoice with a new child or a special trip abroad. On occasion one might celebrate a birthday with a broken shoulder.  Now that we’re in the new hip stage (for a second time), I’m comforted by this thought of the author Madeleine L’Engle: “I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be… This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages…the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide… Far too …

The Blessing of Silence

Madeleine L’Engle – the well-known author of A Wrinkle in Time and many other works of both fiction and nonfiction – is a writer I return to again-and-again when I’m looking for wisdom from a different perspective.  As Candice and I took time off this past weekend to celebrate our anniversary, I found time to re-read L’Engle’s Two-Part Invention:  The Story of a Marriage, which is the one book both of us included several years ago on a list of influential readings. Reading that book made me think of L’Engle’s other writings, selections of which became the basis for a collection of daily readings entitled Glimpses of Grace.  Over the weekend I looked at the reading for March 20th.  It was titled “The Blessing of Silence” and while the references to transistors and records are dated, it is still worth a read. “Why are we so afraid of silence?  Teenagers cannot study without their records; they walk along the street with their transistors. Grownups are as bad if not worse; we turn on the TV …

Twelve Influential Books (And a Few More Thrown In for Fun)

Since  I left Facebook about 18 months ago, I miss 99.5% of the silly contests, lists, and challenges that clog the social media world.  And even when I was on FB, I would occasionally take one of their lists – such as the five albums I’d most want on a desert island – and expand that into blog posts (as in album #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5). But the other day, my sister Debbie put up a list of ten influential books in her life, and asked Candice to do the same.  The challenge was to come up with the list quickly.  Both Debbie and Candice had great lists, and that made me think about what my list would look like. So…here is my off the cuff list of twelve books that I’ve read (and usually re-read, and re-read).  Since this is my blog, I’m not going to be bound by the FB convention of ten.  And, in fact, you’ll see I’ve thrown in a bonus book or two along the way. Through the …

St. Nicholas Day 2009: We Are Always Every Age We’ve Ever Been

Last year’s post about St. Nicholas Day generated a number of favorable comments from friends and family.  Several friends especially remembered the Madeleine L’Engle comment that we are always every age we’ve ever been. So on St. Nicholas Day 2009, when Andrew got a new Calatrava-inspired tie from the Milwaukee Museum of Art and Claire received a beautiful scarf in her favorite color of purple, I will link back to that original post for those who missed the first time or for those who’d like to see it again. Keep up those childhood memories. More to come… DJB

St. Nicholas Day and a Love of Childhood

I awoke early this morning and came downstairs while everyone is still asleep.  It is  St. Nicholas Day, and I had to smile at the sight of two rather large teenage shoes – one from each child – sitting expectantly on the landing.  The memories came rushing back. We’re not German and I didn’t grow up celebrating St. Nicholas Day, but Candice loves a good holiday – especially one associated with a saint that could help counter-balance the commercialization of Christmas.  So soon after the twins arrived we decided we’d celebrate St. Nicholas Day and it became a tradition.  The gifts are similar year to year.  Candice always finds the gold coin chocolates.  The gifts are modest.  This year they include something for Claire’s hair and a “Bush countdown calendar” for our progressive teenage son.  With St. Nicholas Day, the twins birthday, and Christmas all coming within a three week period, we have to be prudent on the gift buying front. That’s what I like most about our St. Nicholas Day celebrations:  the simple nature of the …