Wisdom is something that is earned by time. It is not guaranteed with age, but it is only comes to those that are aged. Part of what is required to earn wisdom is reflection. And that is what Madeleine L’Engle has done here. She is writing her thoughts and musings about life and her writing and meaning based on the journals that she has kept for her own purposes.
L’Engle was in her 50s when A Circle of Quiet was written. (And the fourth Crosswick Journal book was published 23 year later.) So she is not so old that she has forgotten what it is like to be young, nor was she that far distant from the failures of her life as a writer. (Did you know that A Circle of Quiet was published just 11 years after A Wrinkle in Time was published?)
A Circle of Quiet meanders quite a bit. Much of it is reflections on what it means to be a writer or story teller or how she taught writing and story telling to others. But mixed into all that are her thoughts on parenting and child development, living in a small town (Crosswick is the name of their home in rural Connecticut, where they lived for 7 years full time early in her marriage and that they kept it as a summer home when they moved back to New York City), living in a large city, love, church, and many other random thoughts.
It isn’t a book that goes from one point to another. I meandered through it for almost a month. I was enjoying her descriptive language and the ideas. So do not read it looking for an overarching story or plot. It isn’t that kind of book.
If you are a reflective, you will enjoy her thoughts.
Here are a few of the gems for you:
"But a great piece of literature does not try to coerce you to believer it or to agree with it. A great piece of literature simply is."
"The children's writer clarifies things for himself,, not by wrapping them up in tight and tidy packages, but in opening himself up to them."
"I'm afraid of the dark - not afraid to go up the stairs in the physical darkness of night, but afraid of the shadows of another kind of dark, the darkness of nothing, of hate, of evil. So we rush around trying to light candles. Some are real: books are candles for me; so is music; so is friendship."
I like the way she put it. Books are candles. Little lights that show the way forward. For me, this is very, very true.
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5