Ally’s #36: An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The fifth and final book of L’Engle’s quintet was pretty great. My favorite is still book three, in spite of its minor annoyances. An Acceptable Time is about Meg Murray-O’Keefe’s daughter, Polly. Polly is on break from high school, a place unable to adequately stimulate her brain, to visit her grandparents at the historic Murray ranch. Her days passed quickly, studying under her grandparents, swimming, chatting, and taking strolls around the property.

It seems the conversations that fill the Murray household are always super intellectual in nature. Whether it be about microcosms, macrocosms, time travel, or the like, it seems challenging for this family to ever just talk about run-of-the-mill things. A neighbor and friend, Bishop Colubra, has discovered ancient stones dating around 1000 B.C. on their adjoining properties. He’s somewhat alarmed when he learns that Polly and her friend, Zachary, have run into strangers on the land that is to be off-limits to the public. He’s alarmed because a secret he has been trying to keep from his more pragmatic sister and friends (the Murray’s) is about to be revealed.

To make a long story short, there are overlapping rings of time that are allowing people from both ends to cross over, either 3000 years before or after their time. The big question that remains hanging until the end of the story is for what purpose this time overlap has been allowed. Is it to bring peace to the native tribes that once lived there? Is it to give Bishop Colubra greater faith? Is it to teach Polly the sacrifice and courage it takes to save someone else? Is it to teach her friend, Zach, that money can’t buy everything and that the world doesn’t revolve around him, even if he is dying of a bad heart? To all these questions and more, I heard a resounding “yes” at the end of the story. It was a rather interesting resolution. We don’t always know or understand God’s purpose in things, but we can trust that He always has one, and that it’s good. On the flip side, for those who don’t know God and are unwilling to trust Him, what is scary in life can become all the more frightening.

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