Her writings have had a deep impact on the ways I thought about my faith and how life could be lived in the light of that faith. She was probably the first to make me realize that being a faithful witness to Christ was not the same thing as being a "good commercial for Jesus", that the idea of being "the only Jesus some people will ever see" is an unnecessary (and unbiblical) burden for anyone to carry, as well as a flagrant disregard for the place of the Church, the body of Christ, and our place in it. I was first introduced to her writings back in the early 90's, with the book Walking On Water, which was probably the starting place for most of her readers who hadn't been introduced through her "childrens" books like A Wrinkle In Time, etc. I've collected most of her books of non-fiction on spirituality, her journals, etc, and I am grateful for the impact she and her writings have had on my life and thought.
One of my favorite quotes of hers comes from A Circle Of Quiet, and it's a wonderful antidote to my perfectionist's fears of inadequacy and negative competitive tendencies:
"It's all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I'd never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said, by me, ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it our own way....Good or bad, great or little, that isn't what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die."
The world has lost a great voice of spiritual reason, truth, and creativity, and I am going to miss her particular way of "saying it, ontologically"...