Wisdom from Writers: Reflections on work and identity based on Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time

Anyone else a fan of Madeleine L'Engle? While writing my series on Sacred Work, I noticed how often a quote from L’Engle seemed to say just what I needed to express.

Growing up I was a bit obsessed with her. I’ve read almost all of her fiction, and a great many articles about her. But we stopped being so close during college when I stopped reading fiction, and I forgot about what an impact her characters had on me until I came back to A Wrinkle in Time this fall (and I love this new cover!).

This month I’m returning to the topic of faith and work as it relates to A Wrinkle in Time. I have worked on writing a workbook/Bible study on faith and work for most of the past year as I've struggled with my faith and trusting God while freelancing. A friend suggested that I write the kind of Bible study that I would want to read, and if this means thinking way outside the box, why not? If you haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time, I hope this will inspire you to pick up the book and give it a try.

I’m going to assume you have read the book and will just include a brief summary of what happens.

So I present to you a new series on Wednesdays: Wisdom from Writers: Reflections on work and identity based on Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

Chapter 1

Summary: We begin on the famous dark and stormy night. Teenage Meg, in bed, dwells on all the wrong things that have happened recently: her father is missing, she's been criticized at school, there's a hurricane outside, and a local tramp/thief roaming about town. Meg goes down to the kitchen where her younger brother, Charles Wallace, is waiting for her. Soon the tramp, an elderly woman, sweeps in to join them and, unbeknownst to the family, starts the adventure.

I relate to Meg’s awkwardness and not fitting in at school, and reading this book brings back those insecure feelings.  I didn’t fit in. I changed schools in 5th grade and again in 7th, and especially for the latter change I didn’t know what anyone was talking about at lunch or in between classes: movies I hadn’t seen, TV shows I had never heard of, and the misdeeds of strange famous people. I had always been buried in books, and I sat through these conversations attentively, trying to follow along and learn. “Why don’t you talk?” “Why are you so quiet?” I didn’t fit in, and I didn’t feel I had anything to talk about.

Talking hasn't been a natural strength. I’m better at listening, at reading and keeping up with assignments. In high school, when we had more options of where to eat, I moved to a small table outside of the library; and during my senior year, to the art studio, where I ate by myself and threw pots or painted.

It's easy to hold onto that old fear now, believing that I won't be liked and afraid to meet new people. I struggle to trust God for wisdom in what to say and when to speak up.

I love L’Engle’s hopefulness that Meg will grow up well like her mother once she moves through the awkwardness of the teenage years. I still take comfort in hoping that I will continue to gain wisdom and enjoy life more instead of always being so concerned about what people think of me, which is so easy to get caught up in. Experience is always a valuable teacher.

We never really lose our teenage selves, or any of our previous selves. I am still very much that awkward, shy, insecure teenager who is afraid to make phone calls because I won't know what to say, afraid to have parties because hosting seems like a lot of pressure, who worries about where to eat lunch and if I will be welcome at the table.

But in looking ahead to someday when hopefully I won’t be so insecure, I forget to enjoy the beauty in my life now.

Which of your past selves do you struggle to accept now?