13 July 2009
Good Love - You Know, The Heart-Breakingly Strong Kind
Since the new Harry Potter movie will be released tomorrow night, and Beloved hasn't read the books, we bought "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" on DVD yesterday and sat down to watch it last night after the girls went to sleep.
After some initial reluctance to buy into the Harry Potter fad when the first books were released, I became a fan just before Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published. I'm with Stephen King: I think JK Rowling is a ripping good writer who mixes imaginative plotlines with a deep understanding of human emotions and the seductive, covert nature of evil. There is a moment in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" where Dumbledore says, "Dark and difficult times lie ahead, Harry. Soon we must all face the choice, between what is right and what is easy." That sums up an awful lot about life, if you ask me.
That having been said, in the months since my last contact with anything Potter I had forgotten what an emotional wallop this story packs, especially when delivered by the wonderful movies developed from the books. This might be children's literature, but it is not childish, not at all. People betray one another. Friendships careen along on a knife's edge because people misunderstand one another. Major characters die, and everyone suffers at some point. But for me, the lasting emotional impact of these books comes from the bond between Harry, Ron and Hermione. There's simply nothing stronger than the love they share for each other, perhaps most poignantly expressed at the end of the second movie, when Hermione, healed from a petrificus curse, sprints the full length of the dining hall at Hogwarts into the waiting arms of her friends. To love and be loved like that makes every other worldly gift or possession worthless.
After watching the movie last night, including a heartbreaking death at the end, I shouldn't have been surprised by the abandonment dream that came in the middle of the night. There's something about the shared heartbreak of Harry, Ron and Hermione that mirrors something of my own, I suppose, and JK Rowling obviously knows the pain of loneliness and abandonment as well. It's a fear we all share, I'm sure, but we are presented with a choice in regard to that fear. We can shield ourselves from the fear of rejection and abandonment, but in so doing we also shield ourselves from the full depth and strength of real love. Or we can open ourselves, become vulnerable to heartbreak and pain, but in so doing our love becomes genuine, self-giving, self-revealing, the kind of love that breaks our hearts open, but only so they can be filled more fully.
There is nothing safe, fast or easy about love - it takes risk, time and effort to love as God has intended. Even though JK Rowling doesn't do spirituality in the Harry Potter books, she has said she is a Christian, and I believe that the self-emptying love of Christ is one aspect of Christian faith she understands most fully. Today I'm grateful, though my sleepy haze from a restless night, for the way she wrestled with love, pain and suffering; it makes all of us consider it more deeply, and when people consider love, nothing evil can come from it.
Grace & peace,