Tag Archives: Madeleine L’Engle

8th Grade Super Zero Explores Homelessness & Dorkiness

8th Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-PerkovichThe history of writer Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich alone had me hooked: Nigerian father, Jamaican mother, married to a man of Croatian descent, she studied writing with Paula Danziger and Madeleine L’Engle.

The book—8th Grade Super Zero—was good too, not blowing me away, but offering a solid story of a struggling teen that felt very real and didn’t shy away from real issues. Reggie, the main character, is dealing with his father’s unemployment, his church youth group is a major influence on his life and he starts going to a homeless shelter as a one-time project and it becomes something so much more.

Reggie is this dorky, outcast kid who isn’t always perfect but finds a way to struggle through and make the right choices. Continue reading 8th Grade Super Zero Explores Homelessness & Dorkiness

Shel Silverstein Dies and Writing

The thunder echoes outside, and my thoughts overflow with ideas. Where to begin, where to begin?

Shel Silverstein died today at the age of 66 from a heart attack. You probably remember some of his books of poetry, A Light in the Attic, or Where the Sidewalk Ends, with the silly illustrations. I remember them from second grade, and reading about the man with two heads, complaining that when ‘I want tea, he has to pee.’ The best children’s writers seem to be a little out there.

Speaking of writing, what do you think of the piece I wrote for the Table Tent in yesterday’s pondering? I had a lot of fun writing that. This weekend I read another small chunk of L’Engle’s Walking on Water (nope, I’m not done yet), and what stood out to me was how we are losing the ability to equate work with play. When kids play, they play hard. They play intently. They’re actually doing work. How come we can’t work like that? Well, while writing that piece, I worked. And I had a blast. L’Engle also talked about how writing is tough and you really have to work at it sometimes. She said that so many books out there are just rough drafts. Well, I usually settle for rough drafts, but I raked this thing over with a fine tooth comb and tweaked everything to make it sound right. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a lot better than the way it was. It just makes you feel good to refine something like that.

So who are you? What do other people see you as? Mary Ellen Ashcroft spoke in chapel today, and part of what she talked about was how we categorize people. He’s a jock, she’s a prep, he’s a nerd, she’s a punk, he’s conservative, she’s just out there, he’s a Calvinist, she’s a feminist, etc. How unloving is that? Do we like to be put in a neat little box like that. I certainly don’t. So why do we do it to others? And I’m certainly guilty of this too. We shouldn’t dismiss people and categorize them based on one aspect of their life. People are unique, and we should take the time to get to know them better, rather that just stick them in some category. I’ve noticed that the people I know the best I can’t categorize. They don’t fit in any category. I have a silly notion that’s true with everybody.

Write Even When You Don’t Want To

The other day I was reading some more in Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water, (one of these days I’ll actually finish it) and she was talking about the writing process. She said that sometimes you just have to write no matter how you feel. Whether you’re inspired to or not. Because if you don’t write because you don’t feel like it, you won’t accomplish much. It’s a lot like prayer. You have to go ahead and pray whether you feel like it or not.

I found that really encouraging, mainly because I’ve seen the truth of it. Look at these ponderings. I started this back in December, and I’m still going strong. It’s not that I want a pat on the back or anything, I’m just marveling at how much I’ve written, whether I wanted to or not. Some days you don’t know what to write, and you just have to sit down and do it. The volumes of ponderings (all archived for your convenience) are proof of what happens when you write no matter how you feel. Some days it turned out pretty crappy. But I like to think that some days I touched upon something.

I find this encouraging as a writer. Even tonight, I didn’t really know what to say when I sat down. But something comes out, and that’s what it’s about.

Mis-Marketing, the Simpsons & a Crying Coach

To start things off on a less philosophical note, today in my P.O. I received something inviting me to attend Minnehaha Academy—a Christian pre-school through 12th grade school. Needless to say, I’m just a little confused. Secondly, I just finished watching an episode of the Simpsons that proves once again the value of the show. Sure, my mother still frowns at it, but this episode made a glaring statement about the violence in sports (hockey was the example) and the mixed statements we send to our children by condoning such violence. Now to get philosophical on ya…

My eyes opened today, and I tried not to groan. It helped a little. Then came something I never expected to see at chapel. The football coach was speaking, and he cried. Not once, but several times. A football coach getting emotional? Hmmm… He was talking about having an ‘attitude of gratitude.’ It amazed me the way he tried to find the good in everything. It was oddly similar to what L’Engle said yesterday. Hmmm…

Another quote stuck out at me today after reading an article by Mark McCutcheon. Mark was talking about living the Christian life as a relationship with God, not a mere religion. L’Engle said:

“Live in such away that your life would not make sense if God didn’t exist.” (Walking on Water, 31)

It’s becoming more and more clear what this life is all about. And at the same time it gets cloudier and cloudier. Do I live my life in the way L’Engle describes? Rarely. Is my Christian life just a religion? (Is there a distinction between my ‘life’ and my ‘Christian life’?) I hope not, but at times I think it stoops to that. The connection isn’t clear yet, but somehow I think my cheery pants from yesterday and the attitude of gratitude mix together with the religion vs. relationship to say something to me. It’s days like these that life becomes a little less muddled, and I can see.

Cranky Pants

Sigh. What a day. This has been one of those days when I put on my cranky pants and anything anyone did annoyed me (no Abby, I won’t give you credit—doh!). On days such as these I wonder how a God can love someone such as me. But yet He does. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why.

Lately I’ve been learning from Madeleine L’Engle (the writer of the dreaded CIFA book, Walking on Water. It’s amazing how much more interesting books are when you aren’t forced to read them), the acclaimed children’s writer, whose books include A Swiftly Tilting Planet and A Wrinkle in Time—books I never understood when I read them as a kid. Anyway, in Walking on Water she is making the point that we often lose our child like creativeness, and it is often the artist who regains it. Remember being a kid and not wanting to go to sleep? The day was too exciting. You woke up and shot out of bed, barely pausing to rub your sleep filled eyes. Not a second could be wasted. What happened? L’Engle says:

“When we lose waking up in the morning as though each day was going to be full of adventure, joys, and dangers, and wake up instead to the alarm clock, and the daily grind, and mutter about TGIF, we lose the newborn quality of belief which is so lovely in the child.” (page 56)

Why can’t I wake in the morning filled with the wonder and awe of a child? The alarm blares, and I groan. What happened to the sense of adventure each day brings? I also think of another writer that I’ve been learning from. Reese Roper, and the rest of Five Iron Frenzy:

“When I was young, the smallest trick of light, could catch my eye, then life, was new and every new day, I thought that I could fly. I believed in what I hoped for, and I hope in things unseen, I had wings and dreams could soar, I just don’t feel like flying anymore. When the stars threw down their spears, watered heaven with their tears, before words were spoken, before eternity.

Dear Father, I need you, your strength my heart to mend. I want to fly higher, every new day again.

Man verses himself. Man versus machine. Man versus the world. Mankind versus me. The struggles go on, the wisdom I lack, the burdens keep piling up on my back. So hard to breathe, to take the next step. The mountain is high, I wait in the depths. Yearning for grace, and hoping for peace. Dear God… increase. Healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again. Jesus Christ, light of the world burning bright within our hearts forever. Freedom means love without condition, a beginning or an end.

Here’s my heart, let it be forever Your’s, only You can make every new day seem so new.” (‘Every New Day’ – Copyright (c) 1997 5 Minute Walk Music)

Let that be my prayer Lord. Maybe tomorrow I can wake up and find my cheery pants. Somehow they seem to fit a little better.