I don’t remember exactly when she stepped into my life, but when I opened the first page of her book Walking on Water, it was as if I opened the front door to my heart and she walked right in. She took a seat in the loneliest corner, and she hasn’t left me since.
I know little about her faith practices—the small ways she served God or her daily acts of faith or her prayer life. I know only what she chose to reveal through the pages of her books, but I do know this: she kept asking the hard questions around art and faith, and she learned to lean into fear when she didn’t have all the answers.
Madeleine L’Engle came to me in a time when I needed her most, when I could not reconcile my desire to write my way through life, with my desire to serve God as well. In my mind, art and faith diverged like those two roads in Robert Frost’s yellow wood, and I couldn’t understand how to serve one without cutting off the entrance to the other.
Madeleine was the first to tell me that the creation of art is an act of faith. That in art, there is no difference between the secular and the sacred—there is only true art, and all true art is incarnational in nature. She showed me through her words and through the example of her life, how holy it is to pursue the very thing I feel created to do. Where I felt myself splitting in two between my desires, her words became the healing salve that knit the two halves of me back together.
Her fierce intelligence, her way with words, her ability to serve God and her family, and her art pulse out to me from her books like a beacon of light. They shine in the dark when I question my ability to keep putting one word in front of the other. When I question my faith. When I question my place in this world and wonder if I will come out on the other side of all these questions with an answer. Her words flicker with hope, with a desire for excellence, and with the insistent message to lean into the fear, for it is there we find courage.
Madeleine is gone now, but her words still sit in that same corner of my heart, and I no longer feel alone. Her books continue to give light, her courage strengthens, her resilience and intelligence inspire, and her deep faith in a Creator God who also calls me to create, guides me home.
Kimberly Coyle is a writer, mother, and gypsy at heart. She tells stories of everyday life while raising a family and her faith at her blog, kimberlyanncoyle.com. She writes from the suburbs of New Jersey, where she is learning how to put down roots that stretch further than the nearest airport. Connect with her on Twitter @KimberlyACoyle or her Facebook page.
This post is part of the My Faith Heroine Series in conjunction with the release of 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith. Click here to read other posts in the #MyFaithHeroine series.