Monday, June 14, 2010

A Songbird and an Old Hat

We just got finished reading the second of seven Harry Potter books, The Chamber of Secrets.  Brett has read all the books (more than once), and now we're reading them aloud together.  It seems like I haven't read fiction since high school, so I've loved getting into this series; and to have someone to enjoy it with makes it just that much better.

Anyone who's read Harry Potter will agree:  there are more to these books than brilliant, creative story-telling.  To me, Harry's story reveals deep truths about human nature and depicts God's beautiful redemption and His desire for us to be His "messengers of reconciliaton," as Paul wrote to the Corintinhains.

In The Chamber of Secrets, several students at Hogwarts have been found mysteriously petrified, and one of Harry's friends has gone missing.  Harry becomes determined to find who's behind these terrible attacks.  In the climax, Harry finds himself facing th3 evil Lord Voldemort, the dark wizard who killed Harry's parents twelve years ago.  Harry, alone in the chamber with the person who's life goal is to see him dead, is terrified.  Suddenly, he receives two gifts--a phoenix, which he recognizes as Dumbledore's (the headmaster) and the Sorting Hat.  Harry has no idea what he's supposed to do with these two objects, and Voldemort begins to mock:

"This is what Dumbledore sends his defender!  A songbird and an old hat!  Do you feel brave, Harry Potter?  Do you feel safe now?"

I had to laugh to myself when I read these words.  How many times have those same thoughts tormented  me?  I'm trying to trust you here, Lord, but you're not exactly giving me the things I need.  I don't feel brave.  I don't even feel safe...

But, without fail, God gives me exactly what I need--though I'm usually not observant enough to catch it right away.

Harry does defeat the Dark Lord (but for details, you'll have to read the book yourself)!   However, he's left haunted by Voldemort's parting wods, "There are strange likenesses between us, after all."  When Harry confides in Dumbledore, the Great Wizard tells Harry wisely,

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

So, thanks, J. K. Rowling, for reminding me that, when I feel inadequate, it is "in my weakness [that] He is made strong."  And, furthermore, it's my choices--more than my natural abilities--that will affect my life.  (As I tell my students, "It's not the smart ones that will necessarily get the A; it's the ones who choose to work.")

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