A Love Letter

May 10, 2013 Book Talk 14

Dear Mrs. Madeleine L’Engle,

Seventh grade was a turbulent year for me.  My parents had recently divorced and my dad moved overseas for an extended stay.  I was in a new school, new state and way out of my comfort zone.

Enters Mrs. McNeary, my 7th grade English teacher ~ a bit middle-aged hippyish with the energy and vitality of a hummingbird on crack.  She could flit about the room with a passion unmatched by our middle school minds.  And push.  Oh, could she push our class, our perceptions and misconceptions ~ causing us to dig deep into our souls for feeling, for expression.  But what did we call her outside the classroom? I’m embarrassed to say, but with just the right amount of 13-year-old angst and inflection (along with the eye roll), we called my favorite teacher “Mrs. McDreary.”  How could I not see what an impact this wonderful woman was to have upon my life?

159069Midway into the school year, Mrs. McNeary gave us a choice – she was going to spend a few minutes each class reading a book out loud to us {insert suppressed groans and again – more eye rolls}.  Our choice was between The Red Badge of Courage or A Wrinkle in Time.  I am forever grateful we chose A Wrinkle in Time.

As wont is to happen, our perturbed-ness at being read to out loud at ages 13/14 quickly changed to awe and had us to rushing into class to hear the next chapter.  For me, I believed someone out there knew my anxiety about my dad’s absence ~ I looked for a Mrs. Which in every new adult I came across praying she would lead me across the universes to save my dad.  I learned, from Meg, that its ok to have moments of unloveability, but it’s never ok to sacrifice family while acting/behaving that way.  I learned from the disembodied brain how my uniqueness is what makes me – me; and I should never hide that fact.

When the novel was over I moved on to A Wind in the Door (which, honestly, I did not like as well, but by this time I was invested in Meg).  This led me to A Swiftly Tilting Planet and The Young Unicorns.  I developed my passion for classical music from The Young Unicorns.  I wanted Emily’s mom who played grand, sweeping concertos while making mounds of spaghetti for family, visiting clergy and friends.  You see my mom worked 10+ hour days and when she was home, she was still on call. It was tough raising three children with minimal support.

I discovered Meet the Austins and learned that laying under the stars with those I love can be more rejuvenating than a spa weekend.  Meet the Austins led to A Ring of Endless Light.  I would return to this book over and over all throughout my teens and early twenties.  When Vicky holds the little girl as she dies I can feel that sense of numbness overtake her – I’ve been in that state, where it’s like existing in a fog – there is no color, no sound, no feeling that can penetrate.  And oh, Mrs. L’Engle – you knew!  I felt Vicky was me and I was Vicky.  RE-reading the moment Norberta slaps Vicky on the back into awareness  has brought me out of many a depression and numb state that I’ve found myself in.  Still to this day, A Ring of Endless Light is my forever favorite of your books.

The Other Side of the Sun taught me that while some individuals are beyond cruel, my duty in this world is to be accepting, loving, and kind.

Camilla taught me that our parents can and will fail us a hundred times over, but that only means they are human too.  And parents still love their children ~ even while being human.

A House Like a Lotus opened that concept up to include any adult in our life ~ a lesson I struggled with in the learning.  I often marveled how just the right Madeleine L’Engle book ended up in my hands at just the moment I needed someone to commiserate with over the life being dealt to me.  And every time, it was your story, your words, bringing me back around to loving acceptance, compassionate kindness and heartfelt truth.

865973When Glimpses of Grace came out in 1996 I poured over each page daily for the year.  The next year I’d read a month at a time.  And the following year and since I keep the book nearby, allowing the pages to fall open, knowing the page I land on is where I need to be in that moment.   Grace is a bit like that, isn’t it?

So you see Mrs. L’Engle, since my fateful introduction by the wonderful Mrs. McNeary, your stories have helped me endure painful teenage years, molded and shaped my capacity for loving kindness and helped formulate the beliefs and values I hold to this day.  My one regret is that I never told you this while you were still living.  It is my hope and prayer you somehow know what a difference you have made in my life.  Thank you Mrs. L’Engle. Thank you for teaching me to love.

With love ~ always,

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This post is part of a brave blogging link-up that’s part of Liv Lane’s How To Build a Blog You Truly Love ecourse.  You can see what others have written by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

14 Responses to “A Love Letter”

    • Stacy

      Thank you so very much Juju! I only wished I had written it sooner.

      I can’t wait to read your “love letter of sorts” and see who your favorite author may be :-D

  1. Stacy

    Stacy – my name-friend…what an excellent post. Apparently we are more alike than just in name. :)

    • Stacy

      Hah! you are so correct! Thank you Stacy, my “name-friend.” I love that term!

      • Stacy

        I think we should live near each other and be real friends. We could talk about books, elementary school, running (not exercise), and how to let our escape through books be a reality for us today – as adults.

  2. dianasdaily

    Wonderful post! Authors and artists can have such a remarkable impact on our lives and I love that you’ve shared your appreciation to a writer (and your teacher) who made a difference in your life.

  3. Sarah {Left Brain Buddha}

    Wow, Stacy, this is great! I am a total book-lover and I believe we can find so much inspiration from reading ~ and as a teacher I love reading about the ways we inspire our students. An English teacher I once worked with used the acronym IWATIPFRL (pronounced “I-watta-piff-rel”) to answer students’ questions about WHY they had to read literature. The acronym stands for “Interaction With A Text Is Preparation For Real Life.” I worked with this teacher over 15 years ago and I always think of this phrase when I read a book. I love your love letter to books and teachers. Excellent post ~ I’m eager to follow your blog!!

  4. mocadeaux

    Excellent post about the influence of books – and special teachers – in our lives. Do you know what ever happened to Mrs. McNeary. How wonderful it would be for her to read about the impact she had in your life!

  5. Lanie

    I love how eloquently you put into words your love for books and their impact on you life. Beautiful post!

  6. Alice Risemberg ~ Reiki Pulse

    Stacy, what a beautiful love letter! A Wrinkle in Time has been a big book in my life, too. Among all the things you touched on, Ms L’Engle was a fierce teacher of being authentic without ever beating us over the head with the “idea,” don’t you think? Sigh, wonderful. I recently reread Wrinkle, but now you are inspiring me to dust off some of my other old favorites and find the books you mention that I don’t know yet. Treasure to be had! You also remind me of my 6th grade reading teacher, Mrs. Fine, who was fearless in her book choices for our class. She never seemed to choose based on age-appropriateness, and the broad range of genres and authors broadened me as a reader – talk about freedom, when I feel I can read anything! Looking back, she seemed to choose each book by the way it would inspire our passion and broaden our minds and hearts, not based on any testing or syllabus. Amazing. Thank you, Stacy!

    Warm hugs and happy reading,
    Alice

  7. Susan Michael Barrett

    Oh my whatsit, whoseit, and waytogoesit! I decided to read the remaining brave posts today and golly, I’m glad I did. I LOVE your blog, Stacy. This is a beautiful, creative, and inspiring love letter. What a writer you are. What a wonderful shout out to teachers. Okay, I’m heading to like you on Facebook. Totally thrilled and awed.

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