So…spoilers. You’ve been warned.
It’s too weird…
So I’m about to start teaching Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle) to my 6th Grade Language Arts. I had never read it as a child, much to the chagrin of many of my friends. It was lost in the phase of reading a certain boy wizard’s story over and over and over again and just missed it.
Reading it as an adult (I guess I’m an adult…I make dinner and buy furniture now) I have to admit…it is downright strange. It’s super weird. There’s parts of it that didn’t really sit well in my stomach—random old women transform in centaurs, there’s a profoundly wise like toddler, they travel through tesseracts, they eat bread and jam at midnight (well…that’s actually just my daily reality).
And it’s hard to encounter this strangeness. The author (L’Engle) spends almost no time making the weirdness palatable. It’s hard for me to enter into this world, and sometimes I’m not sure if I want to.
…but it’s awesome.
I loved this quote from the book: “I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.”
The book is filled with strangeness that I cannot even begin to understand. And L’Engle doesn’t feel the need to explain it. I love it, because it taps into the magic and awe that we find in faith. We are overwhelmed by the “strange,” by the “weird,” by a whole manner of existence that we do not understand and will not understand until we meet the Father.
We don’t understand our faith. We can begin to talk about it, but we will never fully, truly understand it. We have to be comfortable with the strange. We have to be comfortable with what is beyond us.
A Wrinkle in Time was too weird for me…but I need that. I can’t let life be comfortable. I need my sense of awe, wonder, appreciation for the “strangeness” of God.
Children aren’t allowed to be strange…
I want to bring this back to childhood. As a teacher, how these lessons apply to the kids reading them means a lot to me.
Sometimes I feel like with all of the phones, apps, and screens, our kids are being neatly packaged into tiny boxes of how to act and behave (and it usually involves a dull expression and eyes enthralled by the blue light).
Also, we’ve somehow decided that life works on a K-12 school schedule, perfect A’s, no-nonsense, filled to the brim with dance, soccer, violin, student council, honor society, college applications, the perfect college, the perfect High School photos, the perfect boyfriend, the picture-perfect Instagram life that really makes me scream in my mind.
There’s a perfect scene in A Wrinkle in Time that taps into this. There’s a space neighborhood they travel to where all the children are bouncing the ball at the exact same pace, whose mothers call them inside at exactly the same time. I just…how miserable.
…and that needs to stop.
I think we’ve forgotten just how beautifully strange childhood is. Kids are weird. Kids’ minds are beginning to make sense of the world. Their brains are growing and wiring and re-wiring. Nothing makes sense, and they use their imaginations and play to make sense of a strange world.
If our kids were allowed to have bold, free imaginations—just think of what the result would be! I have so many students who aren’t willing to take risks in their papers, who ask me every step of the way, nervously, what’s right.
I leave this with a wonderful conversation between Meg (a teenage girl) and a mentor of hers:
“Meg, I give you your faults.”
“My faults!” Meg cried.
“But I’m always trying to get rid of my faults!”
“Yes,” Mrs. Whatsit said. “However, I think you’ll find they’ll come in very handy on Camazotz.”
God designed each one of us exactly how He wanted to. He gave us unique strengths and limitations so that we could do His Will in the world. Our faults, our oddities, our strangeness, our humanity, is a beautiful gift that we should cherish. How else can we learn this unless we let our kids be weird?
About Victoria Kieser
Victoria is newly-married Navy wife who left her beloved Shenandoah Valley for wherever her husband’s chain of command might send him (currently beautiful, hot Mississippi!). Working as a youth minister, she’s found her passion navigating the wild roller coaster of Middle School ministry. Between the Navy and the Middles Schoolers, this organized, plan-oriented girl is working to discover beauty in unending craziness and joy when the Holy Spirit throws her plans out the window.