Tonight, I did something I haven’t done in a long time: I read a book in one sitting. My dear husband had gone out for the evening with some friends to burn off weekly steam; my two little ones were sound asleep after an extended play time outside after school, and after the distant thunder moved even farther away. I told a friend this afternoon that after the kids go to bed, I crave silence and stillness. I usually poke around Facebook, work on a draft here in my blog, or search some favorite online vendors for good deals on cute but functional clothes, before tending to my nightly routine of getting the house and myself ready for bedtime. Tonight, however, as I was washing my hands in the guest bathroom, I noticed a book that L. had left on the counter: “A Wrinkle in Time”, by Madeleine L’Engle. I had read it as a young girl, as well as many of her other works, and just for fun, I thought I’d sit down and read the first chapter to see how much I remembered it and if I would still enjoy it as much as I had decades ago.
One chapter turned into, “just fifteen more minutes, and then I’ll go take my shower.” And, “I can’t stop now, I need to find out what they do!” Two hours later, I had finished the book, including the transcript to Ms. L’Engle’s acceptance speech for the Newbery Medal, which brought the total to 236 pages, for those interested. In those hours and pages, it was almost as if I had used my own “time wrinkle” and leapt back to the late 80’s, when I think I first read the book. I became immersed in the story so much that I could again relate so keenly to Meg’s awkwardness and self-doubt and quick temper as an adolescent. My heart again soared with joy and hope as she found the steady, true friendship and love of Calvin. My mind raced with thoughts as I considered how I would have stayed outside of the grip of “IT”. I was moved once again by the tender and unfailing love within Meg’s family for one another. And, although on a much smaller scale, I saw in Meg’s little brother, Charles Wallace, a lot of my dear little L.
Beyond even the story itself, I was so inspired to read Ms. L’Engle’s comments about writing–about having to just always sit down and write, to be ready for those moments of inspiration to come; about the many rejection letters that came before the breakthrough of one publisher’s belief in her story; about absorbing much from the surrounding world (and universe!). I believe firmly that the things that truly bring us joy in life are gifts from God–of course as imperfect creatures we can misuse and twist those gifts for personal gain, which puts God very much out of the picture. What about when we acknowledge the source of these gifts, abilities, talents, however you want to call them, and we hand them back to God, saying something like, “I know You gave me these. I don’t know how to use them fully or even well. Show me, and I’ll use them however You like, to help and bless and bring joy to others.” I may not aspire to be an accomplished writer like Ms. L’Engle, but it is my earnest prayer that what God has given me, in whatever amount or kind, I will look to Him for the specifics, of how, why, when, where, and to whom.
One of my eyelids has been twitching all day, and I have a feeling a good night’s sleep is the only cure. That I kept voraciously reading amidst these annoying spasms speaks volumes to the power of those words, of that story. Love. Faith. Hope. Truth. Goodness. God. All of these were swirled together in a story simultaneously ordinary and yet out of this world. As my eye still twitches, I sit staring at a screen and typing words that are coming out in spurts as I try to process even a part of what it meant to lose myself in a book. In some ways, it was like recapturing a vital part of my childhood, for how often as a mommy do I ever sit down to read anything longer than an e-mail or a utility bill? Even in the evenings, I usually read a few chapters of anything at most, before tending to household needs, or watching a movie with V., or simply falling asleep. My dear boy gets lost in books all the time, and I envy him that freedom sometimes. Especially after tonight, I intend to keep encouraging this habit in him–though I could use a bit of a quicker response when it’s time for him to set the table or get out of the car when we arrive somewhere!
I will end these musings with a quote from Madeleine L’Engle herself, in the last remarks from her Newbery Medal acceptance speech, for they explain beautifully much of what the past two hours were like: “A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living fire to lighten the darkness…”