Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy. ~ Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
In 2010, the wheels fell off. Not the most important wheels, perhaps, but the comfortable wheels. A myriad of illnesses plagued my boys and my husband endured 8 surgeries culminating in an emergency room trip around Thanksgiving that involved hemorrhaging blood.
That month, someone very close to us also confided that their marriage was ending and it rocked me to my core. It was a truly “dark and difficult time” in my life.
Over the long Thanksgiving break, my husband’s health left us house-bound and unable to travel to any Thanksgiving festivities. ABC Family was airing a Harry Potter weekend and so we watched the first movie. And then the next. And soon I was scrambling to the video store to rent the DVDS and watching them over and over again. My husband ordered the books for me and I waited anxiously to receive them. Once they finally arrived, I tore through them, reading the entire series in about 10 days.
I’m a reader, but I had somehow, for some reason, resisted that series. Of course I wasn’t interested in reading adolescent fiction about a boy wizard!! The more people told me to read the series, the more I resisted. My husband had seen the movies in years past and encouraged me to watch, but I had resisted. ME, a student of lit and film, had resisted arguably the most popular series of books of our time.
Well. I was wrong.
The story absolutely enthralled me. In those “dark days,” it was quite common after my boys were in bed that I would tell my husband that I just needed to “escape to a magical world of witchcraft and wizardry.” And really, is that so wrong?
There are some people of my faith that would judge me for my Harry Potter dorkdom. A dorkdom so far-reaching that I asked my husband recently if he would still be seen with me if I got a bumper sticker that said “My other car is floo powder.” (He said “yes” – further proof I married the right dude). So extensive is my nerdy interest that for mother’s day my husband got me a bracelet that read “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” And when someone at my office asked me about the bracelet, I was forced to admit, red faced, that it was, indeed, a Harry Potter bracelet. And, no, I’m not twelve.
Dumbledore’s Army was supposed to be about doing something real. Or were those just words to you? – Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
It might sound contrite but the reason the series meant and means so much to me is that it is so… MAGICAL. How often does a 32 year-old working gal with a toddler and a 7 year-old get a chance to escape to place of such magical make believe? Leaving behind the struggles of day-to-day and disappearing mentally to a place where good always triumphs over evil? A place where ordinary people – children!! – are tasked with saving the world. And they do it! It would not be hard for most Christians to see parallels between Harry’s story and that of our true Chosen One. They are there for everyone, including author JK Rowling, to acknowledge.
At the end of the day, it comes to this: I want to save the world.
There, I said it.
And you do, too.
And therein lies Harry’s magic. It isn’t that we want to watch him save the world – it is that we want to BE him (or Hermione, or Ron) saving the world. We all want to belong to something real, to make a change, to fight for something that matters.
My spiritual journey of the last many months started, oddly enough, with Harry. What it boils down to is a simple question that has been fermenting in the back of my mind while I was swept up in Dobby’s death and Ron and Hermione’s first kiss… If Harry can save the world, why can’t I?