Cosmos From Chaos

Walking On Water

Reflections on Faith & Art

Chapter 1

Plato spoke of the necessity for divine madness in the poet. It is a frightening thing to open oneself to this strange and dark side of the divine; it means letting go of our sane self-control, that control which gives us the illusion of safety. But safety is only an illusion, and letting it go is part of listening to the silence, and to the Spirit.

~L’Engle, Madeleine. Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


Today begins our study of Madeline L’Ebgle’s Walking on Water; Reflections on Faith and Art.  Like the composer Leonard Bernstein, who defined music as “cosmos in chaos,” L’Engle points to the necessity of God in the creation of art.  The process is often painful, but the journey yields beauty.  Circumstances vary, but it is not atypical for God to lead people into the unknown, if not an absolute wilderness.  The willingness to follow requires faith, but within this process transposition invariably occurs.  When God is obeyed, glory results.

As Madeline L’Engle writes:

When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist; Shakespeare knew how to listen to his work, and so he often wrote better than he could write; Bach composed more deeply, more truly, than he knew; Rembrandt’s brush put more of the human spirit on canvas than Rembrandt could comprehend. 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.

L’Engle says that “my feelings about art and my feelings about the Creator of the Universe are inseparable…it means attempting to share the meaning of my life, what gives it, for me, its tragedy and its glory.” Do you feel this way? Have you ever attempted to understand and share the meaning of your life? Try to do so now, either in discussion or in writing. What gives your life “its tragedy and its glory”? How do these things affect your art and your faith?

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