Op-Ed

Hoping for hope? ‘Wrinkle in time’ offers light in dark times

Disney Pictures

Hope has been hiding out recently. Most of us have been struggling, trying to find a glimpse of it, somewhere.

A lot of anxiety has been hanging over this country like a dark cloud the light cannot penetrate. Oh there have been brief flashes of light that point to hope.

Those magnificent teenagers with their courage and persistence. The Unlearn Fear and Hate coloring sessions. Talking Together sessions. Sitting in an auditorium full of high schoolers working honestly on issues of racism. A team of any sort — musical, athletic —pulling together.

Each flash of light splits the oppressive darkness for a moment. Until morning comes and as full awakeness brings us face to face with the realities before us, the darkness drops again, and hope disappears.

Recently, I walked out of a movie theater feeling light. Feeling hope. I really do not care what movie critics or book reviewers say about the $100 million film of Madeleine Engle’s 1963 Newberry medal young adult novel “A Wrinkle in Time.” They are not 8 to 16 years old. They are not the primary audience for which the book was written at a time when the darkness of the Cold War was hanging over this country.

I care immensely about the fifth graders in Northern California who were part of a sold-out crowd in their town and shepherded by a wise teacher were excited about both the movie and returning to their classroom to discuss how it differed from the book, and what they learned from both.

I care about the grandmother in North Carolina organizing a multi-generational, multi-state discussion of mid-lifers and their children who first encountered Meg Murray and company as tweens, and their mothers who first knew Engle through her journals and their children’s enthusiasm.

I care about the mother in Hong Kong counting down the days until she can take her 13-year-old and friends to see the movie. I care about the conversation — the planned and the spontaneous — that are being generated in a world that has been paralyzed into silos where little to nothing inspires the exchange of ideas.

I care about the three adults who entered a movie theater prepared to exit with a book-is-always-better-than-movie response, and instead, came out full of hope and wonder on a day when the already chaotic United States of America plunged further into the darkness.

I care about the manifestation of darkness that roared across the 3-D screen in a technology that sucks viewers into its vicious clutches with young Meg Murray — an undeniable experience of the dangerous, painful, deadly power of darkness in the eternal struggle between good and evil.

I care about the truth in the messages delivered by the three supernatural figures, symbols of light, and the courage and perseverance required to face the darkness, whenever and wherever its energy threatens. I care about the recognition of a post-Christian, interfaith, no-faith world that dares to make the Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Whatsit values-based figures beyond imagination and therefore accessible to all

A lot to hang on a movie? Indeed.

Hoping for hope in the darkness requires my openness to whatever messages have the possibility of igniting hope beyond the small cells of perseverance scattered across the country and the world. We have the leadership of our young people, marching bravely forward to declare “Enough is enough.” We have “Black Panther.” We have Meg Murray, Charles Wallace and three of the most extraordinary angel-spirits of light ever to summon us to a better way.

I, for one, am choosing to hang on to this trio of hope messages. And to the voice of Helen Mirren saying, “’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.”

Kay Collier McLaughlin is an author and leadership consultant who lives in Nicholas County. Reach her at kcollierm@gmail.com.

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