Monday, October 09, 2006

The Flower of Imagination

"I was lucky as a child in being given a lot of solitude. Some of this was happenstance because of my father's illness and my lack of siblings. But it did provide me with an atmosphere in which imagination could flourish. And nobody told me it was childish to believe in angels. And so I was able to do a few impossible things.

For instance: when I was a small child, visiting my grandmother at her beach cottage, I used to go down the winding stairs without touching them. This was a special joy to me. I think I went up the regular way, but I came down without touching. Perhaps it was because I was used to thinking things over in solitude that it never occurred to me to tell anybody about this marvelous thing, and because I never told it, nobody told me it was impossible.

When I was twelve we went to Europe to live, hoping the air of the Alps might help my father's lungs. I was fourteen when we returned, and went to stay with my grandmother at the beach. The first thing I did when I found myself alone was to go to the top of the stairs. And I could no longer go down them without touching. I had forgotten how.

Did I, in fact, ever go down those winding stairs without touching them? I am convinced that I did. And during the years enough people have timidly told me of "impossible" things they have done that I am convinced that the impossible is open to far more people than we realize--mostly because we are fearful of being ridiculed if we talk about it. Ridicule is a terrible witherer of the flower of imagination. It binds us where we should be free."

--Madeleine L'Engle


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