HP, Discernment and Me

For those who haven’t quite caught on yet to this fact about yours truly, I am a bit of a geek.  Church geek … check.  Star Wars geek … check.  Harry Potter geek … guilty, and happily so!  In fact, tomorrow night after work I’m driving 3 ½ hours to Portland to stand in line with some of my very best (and also somewhat geeky) friends to watch the last Harry Potter film together at midnight!

Regular readers of the blog might have picked up on various Harry Potter references from time to time.  I was in my late 20s when I started reading Harry Potter, so I haven’t exactly grown up with them like lots of my fellow HP geeks … did you know people actually play Quidditch?

Anyhoo, as I said I didn’t grow up with HP.  But it has been a friendly companion on my vocation discernment journey.  For example.

The Sorting Hat:  When I was first starting to pay attention to the crazy yet wonderful idea that maybe, perhaps, I should become a Sister, the big question was what kind!  Imagine if all the kids at Hogwarts had to choose which house they belonged to, it would be chaos.  But no, there’s the Sorting Hat to be relied upon. Not so I religious life … a fact which I often lamented during my early “which community is my community” phase of discernment.

The Knight Bus:  There have been times on this journey, when giant obstacles to following Jesus into religious life (such as my gigantic credit card debt) just JUMPED out of the way.  There were other times where the journey was so slow, and other times where it just seemed to speed up of its own accord. Like the Knight Bus.

Patronus:  In HP, one needs to center oneself in one's happiest memory in order to make one's patronus and dispel bogarts and dementors.  The same is true in life and yes, even in religious life.  I have one particular memory from this discernment journey--that takes place in a bathroom in City Hall no less--that I have drawn upon at moments when things as scary and disheartening as dementors have made an appearance.

Grand Inquisitor:   A certain experience last year also brought to mind Dolores Umbridge and her visitation of Hogwarts.  My experience seems to have turned out much better than in the books, however.

Then there have just been HP moments.  Like the day towards the end of my canonical year when the last Harry Potter book was released in hardback.  I lamented that I wasn’t able to go out that night to purchase a book when it was released.  But I did manage to stop by the bookstore the next morning on my way home from Spiritual Direction.  And managed to hide away in my room for most of the next day, voraciously reading about the Deathly Hallows. Chero – one of the other novices – told me later she was afraid to bother me that day because I was so absorbed in my reading!

When I was living in London during my apostolic year, I spent my hour long commutes to and from the homeless shelter listening to HP 7 on CD, sitting on the top of a double decker London Bus.  That was just a cool experience.  And I was also able to visit Kings Cross, where I took this picture of the trolley cart at Platform 9 and ¾.

There are some folks, I know, who are troubled by a book about a school that trains witches and wizards.  I however see the book as a grand exploration of good and evil, of the triumph of the human spirit, as a champion of justice (even for Elves … S.P.E.W. anyone?), and just plain fun.  Which is what I’ll be having tomorrow night around midnight … watching the last chapters of the story unfold on the big screen.

PS - From a review in the Vatican Newspaper:  
[Harry Potter teaches that] 'it's possible to change the world.  It is Harry, with his inseparable friends, who demonstrates that it is possible to vanquish evil and establish peace.  Power, success and an easy life do not bring the truest and deepest joys.  For that we need friendship, self-giving, sacrifice and attachment to a truth that is not formed in man's image..."

Amen.  Sounds an awful lot like religious life!

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