The Lightning With Its Rapid Wrath

As an upper elementary school student, one of my very favorite authors was Madeleine L'Engle. I especially loved her series of fantasy/science fiction novels called the Time Quintet which was published between 1962 and 1989 and follows the lives of Meg Murry, her youngest brother Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe as they fight to rescue the world from evil forces. L'Engle admired C.S. Lewis greatly, and fans of the latter's Space Trilogy should also enjoy the Time Quintet. It has been over 20 years since I've read L'Engle but on occasion I'm reminded of a poem that figures prominently in the central book of the Time Quintet, A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Throughout the book, Charles Wallace invokes this poem (which is thought to be based on a rune written by St. Patrick) to ensure victory to the forces of good. The exact composition of the rune is unsure and L'Engle uses it in several versions with varying wording and punctuation. Whatever its exact origin or wording, this prayer is one that has stuck with me for more than two decades.

At Tara in this fateful hour,

I place all Heaven with its power,

And the sun with its brightness,

And the snow with its whiteness,

And the fire with all the strength it hath,

And the lightning with its rapid wrath,

And the wind with its swiftness along its path,

And the sea with its deepness,

And the rocks with their steepness,

And the Earth with its starkness

All these I place

By God's almighty help and grace

Between myself and the powers of darkness