…I just finished reading “A Wrinkle In Time” for the second time in my life. The first time I read it, I was young…maybe 4th grade…and honestly it didn’t really impact me. I enjoyed it, thought it to be a good story, but it didn’t make me think after I closed the book. But then, last night, as I read the last fifty or so pages again, I was captivated. If you have not read the book, this will spoil some of it for you, but I want to get my thoughts out, so here I go…
…toward the end of the book, the main characters (Meg, Calvin, and her father) have escaped IT, but someone must go back to get young Charles Wallace, who was completely captured by IT. Before they were whisked to safety, Charles and Meg had a discussion on happiness. The planet they were on was ‘perfect’ in many ways. everyone walked the same, talked the same, did the same things…there was no pain, no sickness, no deviation…and no unhappiness…It was only then that Meg pointed out that there wasn’t really any happiness, either. Then she said (and I paraphrase)
Maybe you have to have unhappy times in your life so you know what happiness really feels like.
As a fourth grader, I am sure I skimmed over that line quickly without really registering it. As an adult, I stopped and found myself evaluating my life; the tough times, the times when I have been the most unhappy…and realized that she was right. Had I not experienced those lows, I would never have been able to feel the highs…the deep happiness that can only be experienced when you have journeyed through a tunnel of darkness and found yourself on the other side, different, but still alive.
Later, on a different planet, Meg is nursed back to health from near-death by amazing creatures who live in a world of black, grey, and brown. They have no eyes, but see more deeply and beautifully than Meg can understand. Light and dark mean nothing to them; it is instead warmth and coolness. Meg must go back to the other planet to save Charles Wallace; and she must do it alone. Back in the strange, pulsating perfect world, Meg must find a way to save her little brother from the logical, perfect IT. And she does, with the one thing that defies logic completely–LOVE.
She loves him completely and simply and purely, and saves him with nothing more than three words, repeated over and over and over…”I LOVE YOU.”
That is the story of all of our lives, after all. Madeline L’Engle makes no excuses for the deep thread of faith running through her tale. Scripture is quoted, God is referenced…and I think this ending is poignant for that reason. After all, what has saved us? Someone saying “I Love You” over and over and over and over, despite ourselves and the way we let ourselves be caught up in a world we don’t belong in–whether because of pride or envy, or something else.
So yes, a good book. In fact, a wonderful book. And once again I am reminded of a truth I have often discussed with liz…children’s literature is not really for children at all!