Bursting the bounds

The Great Rift is a section of non-luminous clouds within the Milky Way.
Rattlesnake Lake, Washington, photo by Nate Rayfield via Unsplash.

Because today’s quote is long, I’m going to save it for the end and try to keep my comments relatively short. I found myself unable to find any part of the passage that could be cut out into a short sentence or two.

In addition to sharing a birthday with each other, Jeff and I shared a birthday with three of the most remarkable authors I ever read: C. S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, and Madeleine L’Engle. The “baby boomers” among us may remember L’Engle as the author of the Newberry Award winner A Wrinkle in Time, a book which made an unforgettable impression on me during my childhood.  Long before George Lucas gave us Star Wars, L’Engle took us to other worlds in the story of Meg Murray and her family, in what one biographer called “her most audaciously original work of fiction.” I’ve resolved to read it again soon, along with the other books in that trilogy. For now I’m enjoying a daily devotional book that is a compilation of passages from L’Engle’s works.

Reading the quote below, I thought how A Wrinkle in Time quite possibly began germinating in the tiny child whose earliest memory of the stars was deeply etched into her psyche. If you’ve ever experienced seeing a starry sky on a clear night, especially from a mountain top or from out on the water, you likely will identify with at least part of what L’Engle describes here. I hope you enjoy her reflections as much as I do.

One time, when I was little more than a baby, I was taken to visit my grandmother, who was living in a cottage on a nearly uninhabited stretch of beach in northern Florida. All I remember of this visit is being picked up from my crib in what seemed the middle of the night and carried from my bedroom and out of doors, where I had my first look at the stars.

It must have been an unusually clear and beautiful night for someone to have said “Let’s wake the baby and show her the stars.” The night sky, the constant rolling of breakers against the shore, the stupendous light of the stars, all made an indelible impression on me. I was intuitively aware not only of a beauty I had never seen before, but also that the world was far greater than the protected limits of the small child’s world which was all that I had known thus far. I had a total, if not very conscious, moment of revelation; I saw creation bursting the bounds of daily restriction, and stretching out from dimension to dimension, beyond any human comprehension.

I had been taught to say my prayers at night: Our Father, and a long string of God-blesses, and it was that first showing of the galaxies which gave me an awareness that the God I spoke to at bedtime was extraordinary and not just a bigger and better combination of the grownup powers of my mother and father.

This early experience was freeing, rather than daunting, and since it was the first, it has been the foundation for all other such glimpses of glory. And it is probably why the sound of the ocean and the sight of the stars give me more healing, more whole-ing, than anything else.                                     


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    I love that idea, “let’s wake the baby and show her the stars!” Most of us cannot remember the earliest times when our parents introduced us to works of God’s glory, and wonder. Yet, I think that they are stored up in those pre-verbal spaces in our brains, helping to form the filter through which we experience the world.
    I’m thankful for parents that extend extra effort to share, and for poets, lyricists and authors, which help us to remember even what we may not remember on our own.
    May today be another wonder-filled day!

    • Thank you, Susan. I agree that deep inside, our brains know things we cannot consciously remember. Ray Bradbury claimed he could remember being born, and I think he was sincere in saying that. I don’t know whether that was a delusion of his legendary imagination, or proof that his ability to tap into his subconscious was part of what made him such a gifted writer. YES we all should be tremendously thankful for parents, friends, teachers and other important people in our lives who raise our awareness of all that is wonder-full. May we all do our best to pass that gift along to the children in our lives!

  2. MaryAnn Clontz

    WOW! For this spectacular photo and another WOW! for this quote from Madeleine L’Engle!
    “A Wrinkle in Time” is an all time favorite in the Clontz family. Dale introduced it to me when he was in grade school. I read it & cherished it! Paul read it while sitting beside the Merced River in Yosemite. Shane studied it in his college English Lit classes. In school, I made good grades in reading & comprehension; so when Paul & I were discussing how long the kids were “gone” in the book, I was wrong! I said 5 minutes after they left, Paul said 5 minutes before they left. We tease about it to this day!
    How wonderful to know that Madeleine L’Engle was in awe of our Creator, as we are!
    Much love!

    • Mary Ann, until I was an adult I didn’t realize that Madeleine L’Engle wrote so extensively about her faith. Of course, in much of her fiction, it is evident without being explicit, as in Tolkien’s work. So it’s not surprising that we all loved her stories. I don’t even remember the part about how long they were gone! I really want to go back and re-read the book, and the rest of the series that I don’t think I ever read, because there is so little of it that I really remember. Mostly I recall Meg’s great love for her younger brother and her determination not to let the villains take over his mind. I also remember vividly the way the three Mrs. W’s explained how a tesseract works, because the whole idea of time travel always fascinated me. Hope you are doing well- I think of you often! Love & prayers.

  3. Harry Sims

    My soul rests with Him, my Anamchara.

    It was on Highway 96 about 5 miles west of Fort Valley Georgia on the top of a small hill which rose above the Flint River Valley; there was no ambient light except the starlight and the immense southern sky was on exhibition.
    I saw something which I cannot describe as I peered into this vastness of our Milky Way.
    That was about fifty years ago.
    I can’t tell you what it was.

    Why have I never forgotten it?
    Why does it linger in the deep recesses?

    Perhaps I saw God!

    Eeriness may be God’s brushstroke!

    I’m Harry, grateful alcoholic and devoted twelve stepper.

    • Harry, I think many if not most of us have these inexplicable experiences. I don’t think of them as miraculous, at least not in the sense that the word is commonly used, because I think they are natural occurrences that we simply don’t understand very well yet. Mysticism has been so parodied and misunderstood that we tend to think first of the charlatans who pretend to be mystics in order to deceive people as a means of gaining attention or power or money. But I believe all of us are “hard-wired” to be attuned to more than meets the eye, especially in a spiritual sense. That’s not to say that we can always trust ourselves to interpret it correctly. The unanswered “why” is part of the mystery, and there are some mysteries that we can’t unravel with scientific facts. At least not yet.

  4. Amy Hill

    WOW!! What a beautiful thought and what a great description of God. Thanks for sharing. Did you know that A Wrinkle in Time is now a movie? Stephen really wants to see it. It’s coming soon to the Quantico theatre so I am sure we will go. I’ll let you know when it is and if you are here you should go with us. Love you.

    • Amy, I didn’t know that until I went hunting for L’Engle’s web page to link for this post. Then I saw the notice of the film, due out in March. I definitely want to go. It’s one of those films that I’d rather see in an old-fashioned movie theater with a big screen. One thing I like about base theaters is that they typically have those old style huge movie screens that were the norm before quantity became more important than quality where movies are concerned. Those 24-screen cinemas just don’t have the same feel of “going to the movies” that those old time theaters had.

  5. Connie Reed

    Julia, that was a beautiful blog. Being able to see the wonders of God surround us is proof enough for me and a constant reminder that the Lord is always with me. He is my protector and my healer during the roughest of times.
    Connie Reed

    • Thank you, Connie. We have both survived quite a lot in the days since we were little girls in Sunday School together! We had some wonderful role models, and the best gift they gave us was an awareness of God’s role in our lives. I am so happy you are here with us!

      • Connie Reed

        I am so happy also Julia that I have reconnected with you. Your words are an inspiration and a help to me. I am now sharing your blog with dear friend of mine who also just lost her husband. She always loves to read them when I send them to her. Thank you again and take care!

        • Thank you, Connie! This means more than I can say. ❤

  6. Good morning, Julia!
    I know that our musical tastes aren’t exactly the same, so I found a slightly tamer acoustic version of this song for you: Stars (by Switchfoot)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6v21K5gZgJo Enjoy!
    (The version that I dig is plugged-in: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv-5snutHG0 )

    • Hi Susan! Believe it or not, I like the plugged-in version best too, especially for exercise. But the other one is nice also. It would be on my “walking” playlist where the less energetic stuff goes. Thanks for sharing some musical moments for me to enjoy this morning!

  7. Sheila

    I love “the foundation for all other such glimpses of glory”. There is so much wonder AND much to wonder about! I watched the movie trailer for “A Wrinkle In Time” and hope to see it in March. Once again, you’ve introduced me to another author that I plan to explore. This was such a thought provoking blog, but it took me all week to comment. I hope you and Matt are doing well, avoiding the flu, and anticipating the spring days ahead! Fondest thoughts cross the miles! Love, Sheila ❤️💙💖💛

    • Sheila, so far so good on avoiding the flu. I’ve been shamelessly staying indoors for most of the winter, using that as an excuse. Even when I was a child, my family used to accuse me of acting like a “little old lady” so I’m finding it easy to embrace that role now that it’s well and truly where I have landed! 🙂 For winter, anyway. But I’m enjoying the rapidly lengthening days, and looking forward to springtime. I haven’t seen the trailer for A Wrinkle in Time but I’m about to go look it up! Love to everyone at 428. I think of you so often. You put the “sea” in my seasons! ❤

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