Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle is one of my favorite books of all time...for a number of reasons and through a number of rereads. It holds fond memories of my mom reading it to me as a little girl and me not quite understanding everything but liking what I did understand. I reread it when I got a little older and really liked it. Then I remember reading it in college after taking a class on classical literature and knowing most of the quotes that Mrs. Who uses to express her thoughts...I can relate to a love of quotes and feeling like language isn't always adequate to express your thoughts and feelings...or at least my ability to use language, especially spoken language. (I feel more adept at expressing strong feelings and opinions in writing than when speaking, but still even then, language doesn't always feel sufficient.) I've read it to fifth graders as a teacher. And now, I had the chance to share it with my own two oldest children.

So a big part of why I love it is that it is tied to so many happy memories.

Essentially the book is about 3 children: Meg and her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin. They travel through time and space to try to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace's father. They have help from three creatures, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. They travel to several planets and they are shown the blackness, the evil shadow that has defeated many planets and has shadowed our own Earth. Mrs. Whatsit explains that this shadow is why our Earth is such a troubled planet but that there are many people fighting the blackness, such as Jesus, Leonardo da Vinci, Bach and Beethoven and others. They travel to a planet called Camazotz where everyone acts the same and where they encounter IT, which controls everyone on Camazotz. Ultimately, Meg must try to defeat IT and rescue her father as well as Charles Wallace.

I am interested in the references to light/dark, love/hate, and good/evil.
Here's one great quote:
“Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness. The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared. The light spread until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure.”
Light and darkness can't coexist...and light beats out darkness. Light is stronger than dark, figuratively and literally.

Meg has to withstand IT. It is trying to take over her mind so that she will become just like everyone else on the planet Camazotz. I love this quote:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident!" she shouted, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
As she cried out the words she felt a mind moving in on her own, felt IT seizing, squeezing her brain. Then she realized that Charles Wallace was speaking, or being spoken through by IT.
"But that's exactly what we have on Camazotz. Complete equality. Everybody exactly alike."
For a moment her brain reeled with confusion. Then came a moment of blazing truth. "No!" she cried triumphantly. "Like and equal are not the same thing at all!"
"Good girl, Meg!" her father shouted at her.
But Charles Wallace continued as though there had been no interruption. "In Camazotz all are equal. In Camazotz everybody is the same as everybody else," but he gave her no argument, provided no answer, and she held on to her moment of revelation.

Like and equal are two entirely different things."

In addition, I love the scenes when Meg leaves Camazotz and then meets Aunt Beast and she speaks of how strange a land is where we depend so much on our sight. While I am grateful for the ability to see, I am really struck by her comments that on their planet, they don't see things; they know them. Sight can be limiting. We so often judge things/others based on their appearance and appearance really tells us so little of what a thing (particularly a human) IS. If we could truly see/understand/recognize people for who they are rather than what they look like, the world would be a much happier place. Like in 1 Samuel 16:7, "But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

I love a song by Mercy River called "Beautiful for Me". The chorus says this:

"Has anybody told you, you're beautiful? YOu might agree if you could see what I see. Cause everything about you is incredible. You should have seen me smile, the day that I made you... Beautiful for me."
If you'd like to see a video of the whole song, go here.

When we come to see ourselves and others for who we/they ARE and not for what we/they look like, it is a wonderful thing.

(SPOILER alert): I love that when Meg has to return to Camazotz, Meg is told to defeat It. To use the one thing she has that he hasn't... This really resonated with me in this rereading. As she is facing IT, she becomes angry and nearly succumbs to ITs power. She realizes that anger isn't what she has that IT doesn't. She realizes that what she has that IT doesn't have, has never had, could never have, is love. And through her love, she reclaims Charles Wallace and saves her family.

Love is the most powerful force for good in this universe or any other. I had tears streaming down my face as my children and I listened to this part a week ago. I am not sure why this is such a hard lesson for me to learn. I have known for years that love is powerful, love is necessary, love is the most important thing we can develop in this life. And yet, I constantly have to be retaught this lesson. It is what I am learning the most as a wife and mother. It is what I keep learning and relearning as a teacher. It is what I am being taught daily and weekly as a Relief Society President. If I want to do any of these things well, and I do, then I must love...love my family, my students, the sisters in my ward, my neighbors, and even my enemies. I must develop the pure love of Christ. One of my favorite passages of scriptures is Moroni 7:48, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." If we pray for it, we will be filled with love for our fellow men...and when He shall appear we shall be like Him. What more could we wish for or desire? I am grateful that even though I am a slow learner, the Lord continues to give me opportunities to learn to love and to become more like my Savior.

Is this the best written children's book in the history of time? Probably not. But I think it has an interesting story line, wonderful quotes, some good messages, and is connected to so many pleasant and positive memories that it stands as one of my favorite books.