When I was in the fifth grade, I somehow stumbled upon the wonderful book “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. It was probably my friend Sue who lead me to it. She was my literary mentor and hero; she read more books more quickly than anyone else in my world. I followed her through the library that year and many that came later. Fifth grade was the year when I fell in love with books, and the year when I fell in love with the idea of time travel. I still love them both. I have read more books on time travel than on any other subject I can recall.
Mostly, of course, I am happily secure in my time. Sometimes as I walk the woods around my home, I wish that I could see these same forests and streams 250 years ago, when Europeans were just beginning to settle here. Sometimes when I teach my class about the American Revolution, I wish that I could stand on the banks of the Concord River and look at the first North Bridge, as it stood in April of 1775. But most of the time, I’m fine with my very own time. Really!
Its just that once in a while when I am not paying strict attention, time seems to slip just a bit, and I hit one of those “wrinkles” in the ribbon of my life.
This morning I was walking the dogs. I walked around the block, and down a few streets, hoping to get some of the energy out of our poor cabin-fevered pups. As we headed back toward the house, I wasn’t really focused on the here and now. My mind was wandering, slipping forward and back again. I thought about the upcoming gardening season, and what I should plant. I tossed around some new ideas for my classroom, and wondered how to reassure the parent who doesn’t feel comfortable with my use of an on-line discussion board for homework.
I thought about dinner. I thought about new shoes. My mind was happily jumping around, as it only does when I am truly relaxed.
As we came down the street toward our property, I steered the dogs toward the break in the trees that we used to use to move our old camper in and out of the yard. I took the little shortcut back toward our house, happily looking around for signs of spring.
I stepped out of the trees, and onto our big patch of rye grass. My eye fell on the spot where the ground slopes down into a natural, sandy pool. And before I could catch up with it, my brain thought, “Maybe this summer the kids will……..”
And I was suddenly and profoundly reminded that the kids are gone.
Like a slap in the face. Like a dousing of ice cold water. Like the sound of derisive laughter.
The kids don’t live here any more. They grew up. They don’t play in the yard, run the sprinkler, dig in the sand.
How did I manage to lose track of that fact, even for a second?
I think that it was just a little wrinkle in time. It isn’t that I still grieve for the days when I held them so close. It isn’t that I feel unready to move into the next part of my life. I live a full and busy life in the here and now. I am not always looking back. I’m really not!
But just for a little moment there, just for a brief second, I saw my kids in the sunshine before me. I saw them laughing and running, getting ready for summer. I saw them.
I stepped into a little wrinkle in time.