“A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
–Madeleine L’Engle (author of A Wrinkle in Time), The Expanding Universe, Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech
If I read A Wrinkle in Time in my childhood, I don’t remember it. Therefore, it is impossible that I read it, because I would have remembered this book.
I discovered recently that this book is on the Frequently Challenged Children’s Books list from the American Library Association (ALA). I’m not surprised. The books that challenge our way of thinking are the very ones that are capable of stirring up fresh life. They are written by people willing to think outside of the box, question existing paradigms, and take a chance on the crazy notion that life is meant to be filled with miracles and magic. Which helps us do the same.
So, consider this my recommendation. If you haven’t read the book, you should. And if you have, but it’s been ages, you should read it again. (I also highly recommend the movie…after reading the book, of course.)
When I finished reading A Wrinkle in Time last month, I was drawn to write about it, as I often am when overwhelmed with inspiration. I have felt less inspired in recent months, which is something I’ve been reflecting on.
February is generally a time of reflection for me though. The activity of the holidays, the turn of the new year, and my son’s birthday are behind me. My birthday is in February. My mom passed away in February. The two weeks between those days seem to stand still for me, almost as if they are begging to be examined. Examining what, I’m not quite sure, but I hold space for it so that the lessons can be revealed. Not unlike how Meg, the heroine of A Wrinkle in Time, and her family hold space for Meg’s father during his absence.
I see a decent bit of myself in Meg. Stepping into my own faith and courage to do what is uncomfortable has been similar to how Meg stepped into hers. With resistance. Sometimes with mild resentment. Other times, with outright indignation. At times, with a stubborn deflection of responsibility. Often, with way too much whining of “Why me?”.
And yet, the spark from within is what compels me (us) to act. It’s the nudge from the divine within this broad and expanding universe. And yes, sometimes it feels very uncomfortable.
“…explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly…”
I am awed by the message in this book, written in the early 60s, over 50 years ago. In some ways, not much has changed. The scientific concepts have expanded, but the roots are still there. In others, so much has changed. We no longer have machines filling rooms. Instead, we hold even more powerful devices in the palms of our hands.
And yet, the message of our core desires remain the same. We long to know what we don’t know. We want to feel connection. We want to matter on this earthly planet revolving around the sun. We want to discover miracles and witness magic. We want to live a fresh life.
“…a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
And we want to see a way out of our own shadows and into the light. There is a part of us that knows, has always known in fact, that the coldness, the indifference, the barbaric acts we have witnessed in our lives are not our collective human truth. They might be the shadows we were born into or the shadows perpetuated by those blind to their own truth, but they are not what we are destined to live by.
Because, we are not the shadows.
We are the light.
When Meg finally steps into her power against The Black Thing/IT, it is because she knows that even though she could not love The Black Thing/IT, she could love her baby brother. That’s the point though. She knows the power of love, and that love is the source of her own power.
It couldn’t be simpler, and yet we make it so complex. I mean, honestly folks, we make it way too complex. *expression of exasperation*
Every hero or heroine is fallible. That’s what makes a story resonate. If you read about a perfect hero without trial or tribulation or internal struggle of some kind, you wouldn’t connect to it. Because we, too, are fallible. Every single last one of us. Life hands us circumstances and asks how we will rise to meet them.
But we are not alone. There is always guidance to help us. There is always that spark within that reminds us of our light. It’s the voice that calls out from a place of infinite wisdom. It’s up to us to live with enough humility to hear the message. The very one that compels us to act and at times makes us uncomfortable.
Speaking of discomfort, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster the last few years. I’ve lived all manner of loss and grief, for myself and for those I love. Diagnoses, diseases, death. Some circumstances I and those I love triumphed over; others we didn’t. Some I easily accepted; others I didn’t. It hasn’t been all pain though. I have also had moments of immense joy and blessings I couldn’t have predicted.
As I entered the new year, I started to think about what I wanted more of in my life. And as I entered my recent month of reflection, two intentions revealed themselves to me: Release and Delight. In my usual manner, I yo-yo’d day-to-day in how I accepted and responded to the lessons of those intentions. I didn’t get to the end of February a master of both, but I did make progress. I continue to release what I no longer need, and I let myself delight in what brings me joy.
I believe that is what it means to live a fresh life. At any point in my life, I can intend something new. As days, weeks, months, and years pass — as they will — what will I intend? How will I hear the message? How will I be compelled to act?
How will you?
And together, can we know the strength found in healing our collective shadowed wounds, can we see the beauty in our light, and can we feel the power of our love?
I’d like to leave this earth knowing we can and have. And I know the only way to do that is to be open to that explosive material that is capable of stirring up fresh life. Endlessly.