Friends for the Journey~

From Mary K~

Mary H and I are on yet another leg of our journey together as friends~ that of co-writers. This venture is new to both of us. Instead of just our usual letters passing between us, there are also large manila envelopes going both ways. We both prefer to write and edit on paper. Yes, we are fully aware that this adds a step in the writing process because then we have to type our work onto the computer, but we are adamant that this is what works for us. Ah, the foibles of writers. We also keep copies of our work on the computer, (and on a flash drive or two, and I occasionally e-mail an updated copy to myself) but our rough drafts of each chapter for critique are sent via the mail.

We have promised book reviews on our blog and it seems only right to review a book that was so influential in the decision to co-write our own, Friends for the Journey, by Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw.

friends for the journeyI’d already had a niggling idea that I might want to write a book with Mary when this title crossed my path. As soon as I finished it, I made sure she got a copy, wondering if she would also see the potential for our own book on a similar topic. Anyone who has read my Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace knows what a big influence L’Engle’s writing has had on me. By the time I thought to write her about it, her health was failing, and one of her granddaughters kindly wrote me back. That same granddaughter read the manuscript of Refined By Fire and wrote this blurb endorsement:

“Mary Kenyon’s Refined by Fire reminds me of my grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle, who taught so many of us that writing can be a form of prayer that leads us to grace. I was moved to read how her influence inspired Mary to write and heal as well. Mary’s writing style is extremely accessible, and her voice raw, authentic and brave. By the end I was crying with her. I would definitely recommend her book to anyone who is going through any type of loss.”—Léna Roy, granddaughter of Madeleine L’Engle, author of Edges, and seasoned writing instructor and Program Manager for Writopia Lab.

Friends for the Journey opens up with an introduction to the friendship that Madeleine shared with Luci Shaw, a friendship that at the time of the writing (1996) spanned twenty-five years:

“Today I am happy because Luci is coming. Our friendship started when we first met at Wheaton College. I was there as part of a conference on art and faith, and Luci had come to participate. Our friendship began quickly because I loved the book of poetry she gave me, ‘Listen to the Green,’ and she loved my book, ‘A Circle of Quiet.’ There we were, spread out on the page for each other. Immediately we knew that we share much: In our struggle to live what once upon a time was called ‘a godly life’; in our attitude about our writing-which we both saw as vocation rather than career; in our love for our families and our feelings about marriage.”-
Madeleine L’Engle, Friends for the Journey, page 15

Readers of this book will see that Mary and I have much in common with Madeleine and Luci. I like to think of myself as the Madeleine to Mary’s Luci, as Luci is a prolific poet. So is Mary. While Madeleine and Luci share actual recorded conversations, poetry, and essays in their book, at this point Mary and I have not included any of her poems, nor have we recorded any of our pertinent discussions, though I now wish we had recorded the “topics we never discuss” conversation, as I remember mutual laughter at one point, while Mary doesn’t. Perhaps by book’s conclusion, we will include poetry, but only time will tell. While Friends for the Journey might seem quaint to many of today’s readers, the genuine friendship and love between these two friends is timeless. So is the wisdom:

“But, for the most part, there are friends who are forever part of you and your journey. Those you can cry with, sharing griefs and faults. Those you can laugh with, free and joyful as small children in uninhibited mirth. Those who have proven time and again that they can be counted on. Those you can pray with on the deepest level, exposing yourselves totally to God’s love. I have been richly blessed by such friends, and for each of them I daily give deep thanks.

Yes, friendship is risky. But, the risk is worth it. It is worth it to strip off your protective coating. To be vulnerable. To be known. To risk being loved.”- Madeleine L’Engle, Friends for the Journey, page 162

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