Every now and then I will read a book that marks an epoch in my life. A Circle of Quiet is one of those books. I stumbled across this book on Amazon while looking up copies of A Wrinkle in Time. I’m currently teaching Wrinkle to my seventh graders, so I jumped at the chance to do a little research about Madeleine.
After reading this book, I feel that I can call her Madeleine, because we are kindred spirits. This book touches on all of the things I am struggling with in my everyday life–what it means to be a writer, a teacher, and a Christian, how to balance a career with what your heart says you ought to be doing, everything.
The book is written reflectively, almost as a collection of essays or a conversation that all runs together smoothly. There are different parts and different chapters, but the book is cyclical: the same themes and topics recur again and again throughout. There were so many moments that spoke to my heart and led me into my own circle of quiet. The most notable was Madeleine’s habit of retreating into her own “circle of quiet” whenever she felt herself becoming negative or crotchety and out of sorts. I love this idea, and it makes my heart happy to think that I can guiltlessly retreat into a circle of quiet to get my heart and mind back in line with Christ.
Madeleine also writes poignantly of growing up, of maturity. These parts spoke to me especially–I think part of us always dreads growing up because we think it will be rules and responsibility all the time. A Circle of Quiet shows that growing up into maturity is truly the best expression of a childhood lived joyfully. We don’t have to fear age and maturity, because we can still retain our childlike sense of wonder with the world. When we can grow up into ourselves and be ourselves, then, as L’Engle puts it, we are living “ontologically.”
I won’t write more for fear of gushing, but this book has immediately earned its spot on my list of favorites, and I can’t wait to read it again and again whenever I need to quiet my heart and simplify my life.
You can find the book here.