Thursday, November 29, 2007

the opposite of sin

Yesterday we attended Madeleine L'Engle's memorial service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Most of the sisters from our house were there; she was a beloved friend and Associate of our community, and she often gave workshops and lectures to benefit the community's financial situation. For a couple of the sisters that friendship spanned almost fifty years, and they were eager to be there, even if it meant taking a taxi for a block and a half. The service was lovely and well-attended. The sermon preached was a loving tribute, and a reading from Walking on Water, her book that explores the relationship between art and faith, brought her spirit into the present, even though her mortal body now rests in the cathedral columbarium.

As we walked (slowly) back home from the reception, one sister told me that she and Madeleine were the same age. Not true. Madeleine would have been 89 today and my sister is only 86. (Only 86!) At that age, who can quibble? Would that I could have the vertical relationship with God that my sister has. My relationship is much more untidy. My faith comes in fits and starts. But just as Madeleine stretched my mind and my writing skills, my sister stretches my spirituality.

As Madeleine said, "The paradox of faith lies on the other side of reason." Another quote (that will give me plenty to think about on my long retreat) was: "The opposite of sin is faith, not virtue." How well she understood the paradox of opposites, as well as the paradox of faith.


Pat said...

Thank you for sharing this.
Walking on Water - THAT is the book I've been trying to remember. It moved me deeply when I first read it, and I even wrote a letter to Madeleine L'Engle in appreciation, though never sent it.
May peace and wisdom attend you on your long retreat.

concretegodmother said...

Sister, thank you for sharing your experience of Madeleine's memorial service. How I wish I could have attended with you and the many others who loved her. Alas, distance (other side of the country) prohibited that. My heart was there with you all. So thank you for the description; I am lapping it up. Thank you, too, for reminding me about her deep appreciation of paradox. I'm off to reread more of her books. May light perpetual shine upon her.