Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Madeleine L’Engle

American Novelist, Poet, Short Story Writer best known for novel "A Wrinkle In Time" winning the John Newbery Medal

"The only certainty is that we are here, in this moment, in this now. It’s up to us: to live fully, experiencing each moment, aware, alert and attentive. We are here, each one of us, to write our own story - and what fascinating stories we make!"

"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."

"A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe."

"Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God."

"If we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation."

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable."

"Some things have to be believed to be seen."

"Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist."

"The unending paradox is that we do learn through pain."

"Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light."

"We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes."

"We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts."

"I love, therefore I am vulnerable."

"Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it."

"When we lose our myths we lose our place in the universe."

"Don't try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition."

"We don't want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don't want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination."

"Hate hurts the hater more'n the hated."

"Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind."

"Truth is what is true, and it's not necessarily factual. Truth and fact are not the same thing. Truth does not contradict or deny facts, but it goes through and beyond facts. This is something that it is very difficult for some people to understand. Truth can be dangerous."

"We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things that are not seen are eternal."

"A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points."

"Time exists so that everything doesn't happen at once."

"In reading we must become creators."

"The earth will never be the same again Rock, water, tree, iron, share this greif As distant stars participate in the pain. A candle snuffed, a falling star or leaf, A dolphin death, O this particular loss A Heaven-mourned; for if no angel cried If this small one was tossed away as dross, The very galaxies would have lied. How shall we sing our love's song now In this strange land where all are born to die? Each tree and leaf and star show how The universe is part of this one cry, Every life is noted and is cherished, and nothing loved is ever lost or perished."

"Anger is not bitterness. Bitterness can go on eating at a man's heart and mind forever. Anger spends itself in its own time."

"It takes too much energy to be against something unless it's really important."

"On the other side of pain, there is still love."

"We can surely no longer pretend that our children are growing up into a peaceful, secure, and civilized world. We've come to the point where it's irresponsible to try to protect them from the irrational world they will have to live in when they grow up. The children themselves haven't yet isolated themselves by selfishness and indifference; they do not fall easily into the error of despair; they are considerably braver than most grownups. Our responsibility to them is not to pretend that if we don't look, evil will go away, but to give them weapons against it."

"The world of science lives fairly comfortably with paradox. We know that light is a wave, and also that light is a particle. The discoveries made in the infinitely small world of particle physics indicate randomness and chance, and I do not find it any more difficult to live with the paradox of a universe of randomness and chance and a universe of pattern and purpose than I do with light as a wave and light as a particle. Living with contradiction is nothing new to the human being."

"And there's no getting around the fact that all life lives at the expense of another life."

"The minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions."

"People become trustworthy when they are trusted."

"Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys."

"Truth is eternal. Knowledge is changeable. It is disastrous to confuse them."

"One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time."

"An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy."

"The naked intellect is an extraordinarily inaccurate instrument."

"Art is communication."

"Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write for only in such responses do we find truth."

"Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith. Faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically."

"The earth will never be the same again. Rock, water, tree, iron share this grief As distant stars participate in pain. A candle snuffed, a falling star or leaf, A dolphin death, O this particular loss Is Heaven-mourned; for if no angel cried, If this small one was tossed away as dross, The very galaxies then would have lied. How shall we sing our love's song now In this strange land where all are born to die? Each tree and leaf and star show how The universe is part of this one cry, That every life is noted and cherished, And nothing loved is ever lost or perished."

"I would like to travel light on this journey of life, to get rid of the encumbrances I acquire each day."

"Nothing important is completely explicable."

"For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not are eternal"

"Western man has tried for too many centuries to fool himself that he lives in a rational world. No. There's a story about a man who, while walking along the street, was almost hit on the head and killed by an enormous falling beam. This was his moment of realization that he did not live in a rational world but a world in which men's lives can be cut off by a random blow on the head, and the discovery shook him so deeply that he was impelled to leave his wife and children, who were the major part of his old, rational world. My own response to the wild unpredictability of the universe has been to write stories, to play the piano, to read, listen to music, look at paintings - not that the world may become explainable and reasonable but that I may rejoice in the freedom which unaccountability gives us."

"Goodness has never been a guarantee of safety."

"It is not always on the great or the important that the balance of the universe depends."

"Human beings are the only creatures who are allowed to fail. If an ant fails, it's dead. But we're allowed to learn from our mistakes and from our failures. And that's how I learn, by falling flat on my face and picking myself up and starting all over again."

"Life is not easy and comfortable, with nothing ever going wrong as long as you buy the right product. It's not true that if you have the right insurance everything is going to be fine. That's not what it's really like. Terrible things happen. And those are the things we learn from."