Madeleine L'Engle on the Human Spirit and Why We Find What We Look For

In her forgotten and absolutely fantastic 1983 Library of Congress lecture on creativity, censorship, and the human spirit, beloved author Madeleine L'Engle winks at T.S. Eliot’s famous line from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” — “Do I dare disturb the universe?” — and writes:

We find what we are looking for. If we are looking for life and love and openness and growth, we are likely to find them. If we are looking for witchcraft and evil, we’ll likely find them, and we may get taken over by them.


Let us look for beauty and grace, for love and friendship, for that which is creative and birth-giving and soul-stretching. Let us dare to laugh at ourselves, healthy, affirmative laughter. Only when we take ourselves lightly can we take ourselves seriously, so that we are given the courage to say, “Yes! I dare disturb the universe.”

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