Quotes from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

Madeleine L'Engle ·  256 pages

Rating: (5.2K votes)


“I love, therefore I am vulnerable.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there's no danger that we will confuse God's work with our own, or God's glory with our own.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“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.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“We live by revelation, as Christians, as artists, which means we must be careful never to get set into rigid molds. The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget the questions, and we become smug like the Pharisee who listed all his considerable virtues, and thanked God that he was not like other men.

Unamuno might be describing the artist as well as the Christian as he writes, "Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art



“Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birthgiver. In a very real sense the artist (male or female) should be like Mary who, when the angel told her that she was to bear the Messiah, was obedient to the command.

...I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, "Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me." And the artist either says, "My soul doth magnify the Lord," and willingly becomes the bearer of teh work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary.

As for Mary, she was little more than a child when the angel came to her; she had not lost her child's creative acceptance of the realities moving on the other side of the everyday world. We lose our ability to see angels as we grow older, and that is a tragic loss.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“Our story is never written in isolation. We do not act in a one-man play. We can do nothing that does not affect other people, no matter how loudly we say, "It's my own business.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort towards wholeness.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art



“As Emmanuel, Cardinal Suhard says, "To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“We are suspicious of grace. We are afraid of the very lavishness of the gift.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“The journey homewards. Coming home. That's what it's all about. The journey to the coming of the Kingdom. That's probably the chief difference between the Christian and the secular artist--the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos, we see despite all the chaos.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art



“If our lives are truly "hid with Christ in God," the astounding thing is that this hiddenness is revealed in all that we do and say and write. What we are is going to be visible in our art, no matter how secular (on the surface) the subject may be.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“George MacDonald gives me renewed strength during times of trouble--times when I have seen people tempted to deny God--when he says, "The Son of God suffered unto death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like his.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“Jesus was not a theologian. He was God who told stories.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“Aeschylus writes, "In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grade of God.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“For that moment, at least, all our doors and windows were wide open; we were not carefully shutting out God's purifying light, in order to feel safe and secure; we were bathed in the same light that burned and yet did not consume the bush. We walked barefoot on holy ground.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art



“The prayer of words cannot be eliminated. And I must pray them daily, whether I feel like praying or not. Otherwise, when God as something to say to me, I will not know how to listen. Until I have worked through self, I will not be enabled to get out of the way.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“but BEing time is never wasted time. When we are BEing, not only are we collaborating with chronological time, but we are touching on kairos, and are freed from the normal restrictions of time.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“I was at the annual meeting of a state library association a few years later, when the children were in the process of leaving the nest, and one of the librarians asked me, "What do you think you and Hugh have done which was the best for your children?"

I answered immediately and without thinking, "We love each other.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“Holiness ... is nothing we can *do* ... It is gift, sheer gift, waiting there to be recognized and received. We do not have to be qualified to be holy. We do not have to be qualified to be whole, or healed.Made”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“If we are to be aware of life while we are living it, we must have the courage to relinquish our hard-earned control of ourselves.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art



“In art, either as creators or participators, we are helped to remember some of the glorious things we have forgotten, and some of the terrible things we were asked to endure...”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“Reading about the response of people in stories, plays, poems, helps us to respond more courageously and openly at our own moments of turning.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“If the work comes to the artist and says, 'Here I am, serve me,' then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve. The amount of the artist's talent is not what it is about. Jean Rhys said to an interviewer in the Paris Review, 'Listen to me. All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don't matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake'.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“Creativity is a way of living life, no matter what our vocation, or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts...”
― Madeleine L'Engle, quote from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


About the author

Madeleine L'Engle
Born place: in New York City, New York, The United States
Born date November 29, 1918
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