Around the time I turned twenty, I read an article that changed my life. It came from Eugene Peterson, the scholar behind The Message, an easy-to-access version of the Bible. Peterson's article, "Pastors and Novels," convinced me that stories contained wisdom that went deeper than arguments, debates, or big ideas. He said good fiction gave us more than philosophy: It gave us characters whose lives could connect with our own.
Now, here we are spending Lent with the characters of A Wrinkle in Time, a book by Eugene Peterson's friend, Madeleine L'Engle. This novel gives us vivid and moving heroes, and I'd love to share how these people resonate for me as I encounter this book for the first time.
An Unlikely Hero
First, we meet Meg, a girl whose entire life feels wrong. Meg's discomfort starts close in, with her appearance, and it moves out to her family, where she feels like a failure and a disappointment. Finally, Meg's feeling out-of-place extends to her school, where she underachieves and faces the sneers, gossip, and bullying of her classmates.
Meg's an outsider. A non-conformist. A young person who already knows tragedy and grief and wonders if she has any power to improve her life, let alone her family's. Meg feels like too much and not enough at the same time. She's looking to matter and help make things better. She's an unforgettable protagonist.
A Family Facing the Unthinkable
All of the people in Meg's family are dealing with loss. Meg’s father’s work — his noble, brave work — has made him unreachable. Her brilliant mother has to move on with raising four children, while her neighbors chatter about her disappeared spouse. Meanwhile, Charles Wallace, the youngest, has no memory of his father, and he feels the call to somehow bring him back. This family is holding on, dealing with the unacceptable situation that’s become their reality.
Scratch the surface of the most polished-looking family and discover the sorrows that connect us, the unique and common difficulties that we carry because our hearts are alive.
When help arrives for Meg's family, it’s not Superman, Wonder Woman, or Captain Marvel. The novel’s version of superheroes are wacky and weird and, more questions than answers. Even their names — Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which — speak to the power of curiosity more than certainty.
L’Engle, the writer studying Einstein and quoting a whole library of brilliant minds, chooses fallible rescuers. What matters about them is that they are there, willing to help change the outcome of this family’s world.
Through Space and Time, Together
Like the three Mrs's, Meg, and her little brother Charles Wallace, this quest starts with showing up. We're so excited to show up and explore this novel together on Sunday nights.
Don't hesitate to join us and meet some characters audiences have cherished and learned from for generations.