Over the last few years, I’ve thought a lot about a passage from one of my favorite books, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door. I’m not really a sci-fi fan per se, but Madeleine L’Engle (I always call her by her full name when I think of her, for some reason) weaves such astute cultural observation into her books that even her sci-fi is enthralling to me.

A Wind in the Door is the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time, and quite honestly, I like it better. In it, Meg Murray has to save her beloved genius little brother, Charles Wallace, from a life-threatening disease. To do so, she has to pass three tests. And oh! Those tests! Madeleine L’Engle hits the cultural nail on the head with them.

One of the tests has to do with what Madeleine L’Engle terms “Deepening.” In this test, one of the {non-human, infinitesimally tiny} characters, Sporos, is resisting the move from childhood to adulthood, to the peril of Charles Wallace’s life. Meg and the others must make Sporos see that Deepening is far better than staying a child.

This part of the story is one of the reasons why I have so often thought of this book. The agony of #adulting that has gripped my generation and the generation after us is a very real part of my story. I lived at my parents’ house for two years after a year abroad following college. As a graduate of Vanderbilt, I worked menial jobs, somehow unable to pursue a job in keeping with my education and talents. Why? Why was being an adult so hard?

There were multiple reasons for me personally, including depression and resisting the responsibility of doing something that I considered boring because it wasn’t changing the world. That life expectation is another post for another day. But for a lot of young adults, it has more to do with wanting the “freedom” of complete autonomy.

L’Engle pictures this resistance to #adult as part of a cosmic battle where evil wants to bring all things to nothingness. In keeping elements of the universe immature, evil strives to bring the whole universe to death. In our current culture, this looks like the idea of staying forever young – that to be 17 years old is the peak of existence – that our goal is to always look and act like we’re “carefree” teenagers (although I don’t know about you, but being a teenager was far from carefree for me!!)

I mean, we’ve been told this mantra since we were children: “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys’R’Us kid!” (We do realize that this is a marketing campaign to boost the coffers of the toy store, right??)

In this cosmic battle, we need a picture of why Deepening is beautiful – why being an adult is better than remaining “an immature pleasure-seeker” (178).

This is one of the reasons why I love Madeleine L’Engle’s stories. She makes me want to embrace my place as a Deepened One in this beautiful universe. She pictures the powerful rootedness that the Deepened Ones have. We no longer need to run about frantically, trying to grasp something that is fleeting and unsatisfying. The stability of maturity is a wonderfully fulfilling gift.

This Deepening is a maturing we occupy in our own human way, just as all plants, animals, stars, and cells must also mature in order to keep the universe humming. The universe is so much bigger – and smaller – than we ever realize. And it is important that every part matures and deepens – including us humans.

Here’s how Madeleine L’Engle describes the Deepened Ones:

A burst of harmony so brilliant that it almost overwhelmed them surrounded Meg, the cherubim, Calvin, and Mr. Jenkins. But after a moment of breathlessness, Meg was able to open herself to the songs of the farae, these strange creatures who were Deepened, rooted, yet never separated from each other, no matter how great the distance.

We are the song of the universe. We sing with the angelic host. We are the musicians. The farae and the stars are the singers. Our song orders the rhythm of creation.

Calvin asked, “How can you sing with the stars?”

There was surprise at the question: it is the song. We sing it together. That is our joy. And our Being (180).

This is story language, of course. But we need stories to help our souls see more clearly. We need stories to help us believe verses like Job 38:7, when God tells Job that the morning stars sang together when God laid the foundations of the earth. I am not an isolated being in the universe, with my choices only impacting myself. Being a Deepened One is growing deeper and higher towards the “freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21True freedom.

When we try to usurp the center of the universe place, tragedy ensues. As L’Engle notes, “nothing created is the center” (178). The way Madeleine L’Engle pictures this tragedy is haunting.

Meg felt a sudden chill, a pulling back, a fading of the Deepened farae; there was dissonance in the harmony; the rhythm faltered.

…a troop of farandolae [refusing to Deepen, were] dancing wildly about one far-tree [a Deepened One], going fast and faster, until she felt dizzy. … The circle of farandolae revolved so rapidly that it became a swirling blur. The fronds of the great fara [Deepened One] around whom they swirled began to droop.

…The speed of the dancing farandolae became like a scream in Meg’s ears. … There was nothing merry or joyful in the dance. It was savage, wild, furious.

Then, through the raging of the dance came a strong, pure strain of melody, quiet, certain, noble (181-182).

For those of you out there who feel like adulting is scary and unappealing, let me just say:  adulthood is beautiful.  “”A strong, pure strain of melody, quiet, certain, noble.” It’s worth embracing.

And if you get a chance to pick up the book, I highly recommend it! I really haven’t done it justice. It’s a fabulous story.

* Quotes taken from the 1984 version published by Dell Publishing Co., Inc., copyright 1973.