Stepping Onto The Water

istock_000002187415xsmall_3My friend, Shelia Mullican, gave me a birthday gift on Sunday. She gave me a copy of Walking On Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle. I had never heard of it. Of course I have heard of Madeleine L’Engle. She’s right up there with C.S. Lewis. But, I must confess, I have never read A Wrinkle In Time. I tried, back in the sixth or seventh grade, but could never get into it. Everyone in my family loved it. They will tell you it’s still one of their all-time favorites.

For some reason I have always had a difficult time reading fantasy. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not handicapped when it comes to imagination. I’m more of a concrete person. On the Myers-Briggs profile I’m a strong S—Sensing. Creative and imaginative I’m not so much. I tend to look at life literally. But there is something in me that knows I would love Madelenine L’Engle’s books if I would just let go and let her take me where I could never go by myself. Unlike most of you Walking on Water will be my first real introduction to her. And it’s not fantasy. It’s just her, the deepest parts of her. I can’t wait.  I know I’m about to make a very dear friend.

My husband has encouraged me to write. And the fact that he is in the publishing business causes me to take his encouragement seriously—though I feel completely inadequate when I give it a try. I do not enjoy the process of writing. Occasionally, I like having written. I have many half-finished blog posts waiting in “the wings,” but I keep getting stuck.

I want to like writing. I want to push through the out-of-my-comfort-zone feeling. I want to know what it’s like to stop analyzing every word, and criticizing every thought and just let go. Nicole Nordeman, in the Introduction to Walking On Water, says that L’Engle helped her “remember how to slow down, how to let go, how to wake up to the voice of the Creator in [her].” Are we all meant to hear that voice and become “co-creators” on some level?

Nicole says,

Now somehow this book has landed in your hands. … Maybe, like me, one of your friends recommended it because for the fifteenth day in a row you’ve sat staring at an empty canvas, or a lump of clay on your wheel, or a blank piece of paper on your piano, and you’re stuck. …

Be encouraged. Close your eyes and let go. Remember, as Peter did, what it felt like when nothing was sustaining you in the small space between your feet and those daunting waves but the power of an unrelenting Love.

And walk on.

Thank you, Shelia. I’m walking into the pages. I feel as though I’m entering into a mystical land full of secret treasures, and I do love treasure hunting. But I’m a little scared.


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9 Responses to “Stepping Onto The Water”

  1. Madeleine L’Engle is my favorite author!!! (Thus my daughter’s name – and spelling of her name). Walking on Water is a fabulous book! I am about to start re-reading it! She has several non-fiction books on faith that are excellent! I hope you enjoy the book. She also has several realistic fiction series that are not fantasy. And I think you would make a great writer! No better way to start than blogging! Check out my new blog – today’s post was on L’engle, writing, and prayer (with a quote from Anthony Bloom)
    – Karissa

  2. I’m so relieved to hear you say you didn’t really get “A Wrinkle in Time” at first… because I didn’t either! But I sure love “Walking on Water”! It really does help you embrace the incredible mystery of inspiration.

    But regardless of how powerfully we experience inspiration, writing is hard work. I’m grateful that you’re doing it though. Your blog is interesting because you make it so personal and warm. Keep it up. We need to hear what you’re thinking about!

    Emily Sutherland

  3. This is my favorite book of Madeleine L’Engle’s. She inspired me to write personal essays a couple of years ago, and now I’ve had 7 published and am working on a memoir. One thing I love about her (and Flannery O’Connor) is how they infuse their writing with their spirituality rather than “preaching” through their writing. Enjoy the book! Thanks for commenting on my blog.

  4. Gail,

    I had to smile when I read, “I want to like writing.”

    Alas, writing is a love-hate relationship, isn’t it? I don’t always like the process either, but I love the outcome.

    Your post reminded me of some of my favorite quotes about writing. I hope you won’t mind if I share them here:


    “Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.”
    —Gene Fowler

    “Writing is the hardest way of earning a living with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.”
    —William Saroyan

    “Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon one can neither resist nor understand.”
    —George Orwell

    “Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you—as if you haven’t been told a million times already—that writing is harder. Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching.”
    —Harlan Ellison


    All the best in your writing pursuits. Madeleine L’Engle’s work will provide great inspiration.

  5. lindseyreadenobles April 22, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Please keep writing. I always love reading what you have to say.

  6. Oh I must read this! I loved Wrinkle in Time and have read all of her other books too. I went through a fantasy phase once. 🙂

    You have a way of writing that reaches hearts, Gail. It’s a gift you need to nurture, even though it’s sometimes hard. You have to give yourself permission to write a really crummy first draft then edit. it’s all about the editing!

  7. Your own voice is powerful…I think one of the hardest things as a former teacher was to facilitate my student’s to know that their own voice is worth writing….your blog is so enjoyable because it give us a glimpse of you….the beautiful woman, the devoted wife, the joyful mom…the transparent woman of faith…..a lovely warm hearted believer who is kind enough to share glimpses of her life with those of us who are not privileged to know you and yours in person!

    Keep sharing….we so enjoy hearing your voice!
    Sweetie Berry

  8. Be strong and courageous! I hope you will find refreshment and nourishment in these pages as have I… and a thousand treasures. You are so receptive to beauty, and you create it in more places than you even realize. I think you will find a kindred spirit In Madeleine. I will be anxious to hear your thoughts.

    I love you.


  9. Hi Gail!

    Thanks for your post. It’s a great book and you’ll enjoy the journey.

    I really appreciated Madeleine L’Engle’s honesty. A memorable quote I have from that book is: “It is the things I have left undone which haunt me far more than the things which I have done.” I often feel the same way and her honesty in that area has inspired me to keep at it. Perhaps her sentiment may also inspire you to blog-out those half-finished posts! The world is needs to hear what you have to say.


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