Bursting the bounds
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.