Once Upon A Time Challenge #2

Madeleine L’Engle’s sequel to A Wrinkle in Time continues with the theme of “love conquering all” as Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe make the acquaintance of a “dragon” which turns out to be a cherubim. Once again, Madeleine takes holy icons and casts them in a new light: imagine meeting an angel, with many wings, and eyes, and puffs of smoke.

An angel who is able to kythe with you. Kything is Madeleine’s word for the ability to communicate without words, using only your thoughts and the understanding of the person with whom you kythe. It sounds fantastical, but I think this occurs in real life. I’ve been able to perceive what a loved one is thinking, perfectly, without words. A simple gesture, expression or significant glance, is often more revelatory of a person’s thoughts than words. Especially when one is in love. I’ve never kythed with an angel, of course, but aren’t there people with whom you can clearly communicate non verbally?

In order to save her brother, Charles Wallace, who’s mitochondria are being attacked, Meg must pass a series of three tests. Tests which aren’t even clearly laid out for her. The first one involves distinguishing which Mr. Jenkins (the school principal) is the real one of three, and which two are echthroi. Echthroi is plural for echthros, an evil which is able to extinguish anything in Creation. From stars in the galaxy to people on Earth. The echthroi are trying to extinguish Charles Wallace, and once again, we find Meg battling them to save him. She is able to do that by Naming, a concept I will leave you to discover should you choose to read this sequel.

One of the most striking phrases in this book, to me, is when Madeleine wrote a conversation containing this line, “You and I have good enough minds to know how very limited and finite they really are. The naked intellect is an extraordinarily inaccurate instrument.” (p. 87)

I agree. We cannot comprehend the magic of fantasy any more than we can comprehend angels, “echthroi”, or God. Understanding fantasy, like faith, is a matter of opening our minds to let in what lies beyond the capability of our intellect.

19 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time Challenge #2

  1. "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, KJV).


  2. Lovely review. I just finished A Wrinkle in Time and will be posting about it very soon! I enjoyed it very much and look forward to eventually reading this one. 🙂


  3. I definitely agree that in real life we can communicate without words too. For me, it's one of the things closeness is all about.I really need to give Madeleine L'Engle a try.


  4. Ok, this is quite strange. For you see, above the computer, where I sit typing at this moment, is a very small shelf of books. They are mostly reference books that are job-related. There is one random book from my husband's aunt, he just stuck it there to get it out of the way. It's called "Kything-The Art of Spiritual Presence", with a quote from Ms. L'Engle herself.I've long been wanting to give the Madeleine L'Engle books a try- I think I truly need to this summer.


  5. Robin, I love this series too, and what is nifty this time around is that I am reading them in order without a few years in between. This makes for a more cohesive read, which I am really enjoying, as the thread of ideas continues throughout each novel. I'm looking forward to startin A Swiftly Turning Planet soon, but now I'm also working on The Count of Monte Cristo and Swann's Way.California Teacher Guy, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6 (It's great sharing verses with you!)Quixotic, I can't wait to read your post on Wrinkle. Everyone's been salivating about Neil Gaiman, who's not an author I appreciate as much as most of you. So, I'll be a little more articulate as we talk about L'Engle. I hope. :)Nymeth, I'm so glad you understand what I mean about communicating without words. I was afraid people would think I'm nuts, but I agree: it's one of the things closeness is all about. I certainly can't "kythe" with everyone.Mrs. T, I've never heard of the book you wrote about in your comment, but I'm so intrigued! I'm going to do a search on Amazon, or Alibri, and see if I can find a copy for myself. Isn't that neat that you have one, and could speak of it in response to this post?Stephanie, it won't take you very long to read A Wrinkle In Time. I started this post by saying one of the things I loved best about it was I could read this book in less than two days. Then, I didn't think that was very literate of me, so I erased it. But, it is nice reading a book which doesn't take months!


  6. Kything– what an interesting word. We call it telepathy and yes, we do it, too. My mother thinks that "kything" is how you understand the language of dogs. There is a guy (oh, his name always escapes me) who studies the emotions of faces. There is so much to read non-verbally when you are with people or animals. Like recently how they have discovered that dogs wag their tails one direction when they express love. Monty Roberts, the famous horse trainer, can read the language of horses.There is so much more we don't scientifically know but we instinctively can know…Interesting idea. I just finished reading Van Gogh's letters to prepare to see the Van Gogh exhibit.


  7. Motherpie, your comment makes me think of a book on my shelf that's waiting to be read entitled "Animals in Translation." The back cover reads: "People with autism can often think the way animals think, which puts them in the perfect position to translate "animal talk." In this groundbreaking book, Temple Grandin draws on her own experiences with autism as well as her distinguished career as an animal scientist to deliver an extraordinary message about how animals think, act, and feel. Funny, informative, and full of incredible insight, Animals in Translation will forever change the way we look at our fellow creatures." Just an interesting connection that occurred to me as I read your comment…I've never read Van Gogh's letters; the closest to anything I've read about him is Irving Stone's The Agony and The Ecstasy. (I hope that isn't the one about Michaelangelo, because now I'm getting confused.) Anyway, I'm sure it's a fabulous exhibit. A Van Gogh exhibit came to The Art Institute in Chicago several years ago, and I loved it. I hope you can buy a journal, or something wonderful, with which to remember it.p.s. I'm still reading the book by Estes on wild women. It's fascinating!


  8. Bellezza, shame you're not a fan of Neil Gaiman, I know I do talk about him quite often. Will try and get my thoughts on Wrinkle posted today.I have Animals in Translation on my list.Monty Roberts – his book Horse Sense for People is a favourite of mine.And, in the past year I've very much enjoyed Amelia Kinkade's books on animal communication. Very interesting.


  9. Quixotic, isn't it awful about me and Neil Gaiman? Wandering around the Once Upon A Time posts, I feel like a girl with two left feet! It's not that I dislike him, I'm just not enamored. I read Anansi Boys years ago, and it left no lasting impression for me to even refer to. I read Neverwhere this October for Carl's R.I.P. Challenge, and I thought it was fine. Imaginative, but fine. Sorry to be so disappointing!


  10. I love that last statement you made – "Understanding fantasy, like faith, is a matter of opening our minds to let in what lies beyond the capability of our intellect." Isn't it exciting that there is so much to learn and that there is so much available to help us. I have Wrinkle in Time on my list to read soon. Looks like I will be enjoying the sequel, too. What a marvelous cover.


  11. Bellezza – his books do tend to be quite different from eachother, so you might still find something in his work you like. But hey, even if not, plenty more authors in the sea. :DI posted my thoughts on Wrinkle by the way. Hope you get the chance to drop by!


  12. Booklogged, I'm glad you liked the ending sentence; I'm just now able to draw some parallels between fantasy and loving God in that they both require a leap of faith. Madeleine L'Engle never ceases to open my eyes further every time I read one of her works, and I've been reading them for 30+ years. This cover is beautiful, but I was at Costco before Mother's Day and saw that there is a whole new cover release which is even more gorgeous. I'll post it sometime when I'm not going crazy closing down the school year! Quixotic, I'm coming over right now!


  13. Thanks for the heads-up on my Wrinkle review. I'm getting a little overwhelmed by all the books I want to read but I can see the rest of this series need to be added to the list. Great review. I've only read two Gaiman books, Stardust and Good Omens, but did like them a lot.


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