Lit Counts: Fighting Lessons from 'A Wrinkle in Time'

Image: 

By Kate Christensen

I reawakened to A Wrinkle in Time a year ago during a rare movie date night with my husband. When the preview began I recognized the story in three beats. I don’t know how it happened; I hadn’t read the book in twenty-five years. But before they even said ‘tesseract’ I was enveloped in the familiar, like my core was wrapped in the afghan crocheted by my favorite aunt.

Sometimes reading gets pushed to the outer rims of my daily life. It gets buried under the dirty dishes, bags of groceries, and routines of children. I am reminded, in moments when shit goes down, that literature is an essential way to ground us to our own humanity.

Shit went down a year and a half ago when Extraction 8 North optioned my neighborhood, my kids’ school, and our taxpayer-funded open space for fracking. My life became an independent study into existence next to giant industrial hydraulic fracturing facilities. What I found was asthma, cancer, explosions, and a legal system in Colorado that doesn’t allow communities to protect themselves. I discovered what many families in Colorado have been living with for years.

So I joined them in the fight. How I would have loved a pair of magical glasses to use in a time of need! Instead our weapons were yard signs, banners, letters to the editor, canvassing events, testifying before the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, and Facebook live videos. (What? Yes. Even I did that.) Those were the tools available to us to counter tens of millions of dollars in television ads that oil and gas companies blasted during Broncos games.

I missed my kids all those evenings and weekends I spent irritating voters around Colorado with phone calls and door knocks. But in stolen moments, I left the sink full of dishes to find refuge with my children, as we curled up in the afghan made by their great-aunt and read the copy of A Wrinkle in Time I had as a child. That book was Aunt Beast for me. It provided the comfort and nourishment I needed so I could go out again the next day.

The book was still there—with my husband and my kids, the couch, the dog, and the afghan—when I returned from fighting a much more powerful foe and was defeated. The majority of Coloradans voted against the increased setbacks from oil and gas activity, and decided to let the fracking of our neighborhoods and schools continue.

A Wrinkle in Time reminds me that these fights come and go. They are won and lost. Through it all we are held together by the stories that are there for us whenever we need them. The stories that help us recharge for the next round; for the next fight.

Editor's Note: Lit Counts is an essay series in which readers and writers from our community express why they believe in supporting and elevating literary arts—the mission of Lighthouse Writers Workshop. The series will countdown toward Colorado Gives Day on December 4, the annual statewide fund drive for nonprofits. For 2018, Lighthouse has set a goal of $90,000, to support the continued growth of our literary programs. If you believe in the mission of Lighthouse, consider scheduling your contribution today

Kate Christensen is an aspiring writer who is in her second year of The Book Project. She loves everything Lighthouse and is still surprised that they let her hang around. She lives with her husband and kids and dog and chickens spitting distance from the most fracked county in the country.