I am not just a mere fan of Harry Potter. Sure, I might call myself a fan, though you'll never catch me using the silly term 'Potterhead' or whatever. xD No....I am much, much more than just a fan.
I never know where to begin when telling my Harry Potter story, but I suppose it would do to start by saying that at first, I was quite prejudiced against the Harry Potter books. I thought, looking at the books' American covers, that they looked quite silly and uninteresting. So I paid them no attention. Haha. Until one day when I was at a family friend's house for the day, and their little ones, much younger than I, liked HP and wanted to watch the first film, which had recently come out on DVD. This was August 2002. Begrudgingly, I said I would watch it with them. The rest, as they say, is history. The movie was unlike anything I even remotely thought Harry Potter would be like, and I was hooked. In the same way as I had done earlier that summer, when I had loved The Hobbit so much the first time I read it, I promptly read it again upon finishing it, I watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone a second time that day. Soon, it was time to go home. All I could think about was how much I wanted the books, the 4 which were out at that time. When I finally got my hands on all 4 books, I fell even more deeply into the stories, and it would be a long time before I emerged to even consider breathing anything other than Harry Potter.
That year was my 6th grade year. I won't go into a lot of detail here, but suffice it to say that it was a hard year, a dark year, for me. At 12 years old, I felt utterly alone in the world. Even my parents felt strangely distanced from me. I felt like I was in a room to myself, locked up, and no one, not even me, had the key to get inside. The pain -- I cannot even describe. The Harry Potter books became my solace, my hope, my haven in a world that suddenly felt alien and separated from me. An ache deep inside me was at last awoken in full, when only stirrings had I known before. I cannot even begin to tell you how many tears were shed, each and every night, almost. It was here that I learned how to cry quietly, silently, making no noise as I cried myself to sleep. Inside these books was a place that felt like home beyond what mere words can express, here were friends, true friends who would be like brothers and sisters to me. Words such as yearning, longing, aching came to define my life, and really, still do. At the same time, however, my immersion into Harry Potter carried an unexpected twist -- not only had it become a source of nourishment, a balm to soothe my bleeding soul -- it had become also my poison, the sword that wounded me. For I found that my longing had grown bitter and harsh over time, and no longer bore the sweetness and intoxicating joy and hope it once had. Something had gone wrong, inside of me. So I slowly, slowly made the decision to journey out of this 'land' that I had inhabited those many months, whose music to this day pierces me to my very core...
You see, something interesting and rather unexpected happened when I slowly 'emerged' from my Harry Potter immersion; though he no longer consumed my every waking thought and word that came out of my mouth, over time, he became part of the very foundation of who I am; Harry was absorbed into my very self, the fabric of my being, of what makes me uniquely me. I can no more separate Harry from who I am than I can separate my soul from my body --- which, even in death, is a temporary separation, false, and not meant to be. The body and the soul are to be forever reunited in the end, glorified and made perfect in God. For we are human beings: flesh and spirit. To 'extricate' Harry from myself would leave you with less than me. It would no longer be me, fully me. Only a piece, and incomplete.
Harry is now part and parcel of myself. This is why it hurts so much when he is attacked in some way by others, untruths said about him, slandered, belittled, or when others somehow, bewilderingly, just do not "like" or "enjoy" his Story very much. It is almost, to me, as if I am being attacked, and wounded, as this part of myself closes its doors to others' blindness and even sheer idiocy. I know it is not an actual attack on me personally, but still, it does hurt. As to those who just don't 'respond' to the story....I am not sure what to say, but that I cannot relate....that, in this area, you and I cannot relate, there are no binding threads between us. Perhaps in other ways, there are, but not in all.
I must say that if your soul does not resonate deeply with Harry akin to mine, then there will ever be a part of me that I cannot communicate to you, that is 'dark' to you, a part of me you cannot see or understand. This does not mean we cannot love each other and be friends --of course we can -- just that a very deep and sacred part of who I am remains hidden from you, and there is nothing I can do about that. I am sure, since God uses a myriad of things to reach His children, there are comparable things in your souls, perhaps, that I cannot grasp or understand about you for the same reason.
However, if you do understand what I mean when I speak of love for Harry, in some degree, in a similar way ...then a connection has been made, a bond forged. You know. A communion is shared, a gaze into each other that is rare indeed. And it requires no words, really, to express it. We can try, of course, as I do here, but we will both understand how feeble words are with something like this, when our words are so limited in the realm of the spirit, of the heart.
Years later, I would read a book, How Harry Cast His Spell, by John Granger. It made it crystal-clear to me why Harry meant so much to me when it did, and why it helped me how it did. Harry Potter is truly, like Narnia and Lord of the Rings, spiritual food in a spiritually starving world. I was spiritually starved, to be sure....and in Harry Potter I found such beauty, such Truth, that it filled my heart with a powerful longing for home and belonging and for adventure, magic, enchantment, the existence of things beyond my sight, of things beyond explanation, of epic battles between good and evil. I wanted very much to be able to fight for all that is good and true. I grew tired of cold, harsh, limited, sterile science and longed for Truth over mere physical "facts". (I have since learned that stripping science of its wonder and awe is one of the worst things the so-called "Enlightenment" did for us, though they left us a rather unfortunate legacy anyway, in many areas.)
I did not know for what I yearned with every fiber of my being (little did I know it was more a Who, not a what), though I felt it embodied best in words like home, true friends, beauty, magic, enchantment, adventure. Was this 'home' a place? I felt distant from my parents, whom I felt, at that dark time, did not love me (I know now they most certainly did and do). It took me not quite 4 years for me to find this 'home', but find it I did. :)
No matter what I say or connect it to down the years in my life, I will never be able to fully convey what Harry means to me. He is wrapped up in everything.
A lot of the time, I just feel generally sick, heartsick.
How is it that these songs have wound their way into my skin, flow in my blood and nestle in my bones? What is it that makes my heart leap into my throat and tears well up in my eyes when certain songs are heard, this ache, this ache that is so hard to put to words?! The characters, the people --- you love them, as family. They have, indeed, become family. And loving them like family, you grieve with them, laugh with them, weep and rejoice with them.
What maddeningly brief glimpses of Truth do we see, and make us pant for more? Whispers, hints, and reminders of Eden and our exile is felt all the more painfully. We look in the windows and see far beyond -- and within -- and our heart of hearts cries out for the home we never left, but are too blind as yet to see. Oh! The curse of Uncle Andrew Eyes! (and ears) Its poison seeps through us all. We live in a world of enchantment and wonder but have our heads in the sand, our eyes on the cave wall. Whither has the magic gone? Oh, does it hide in the forest like Old Narnia, beaten back by fear and hate, or does it perish with forgetting, like the gods of old? Or Tinker Bell, when disbelief struck at her beating heart. Or perhaps like Avalon, protected from our finding, and our abuse. With denial comes withdrawal, no longer wanted or respected in any way, and seeking solace in the hidden places. The stars they sing and dance in their courses, but deaf and blind we look away.
What powers and gifts lie within us, lost? Left beneath a tree's dark shade with half-eaten fruit among them. Some linger on, bent and weakened, but most are just a memory. What has our disbelief earned us? The ties that bind us one to each other all tangled and twisted and frayed, how great is our rebellion against the Weaver's hand.
Why does Hogwarts feel like home, unique and distinct from the way that Narnia, too, and Middle-earth, feel like home? Oh, to wrap myself in it and breathe it in deeply into my lungs!
Yes, yes, there is a chapel at Hogwarts, I am sure of it. And Catholic, too -- for Hogwarts was young and forming when England Mary's Dowry was. How did the Reformation -- a schism tearing the Mystical Body apart-- touch the magical community? What were, or are, their views of the crown?
Imagine, the Greatest Miracle ---of Love-- on an altar, in a magical school! The wizard priest whose consecrated hands thus bear Love Incarnate should tremble at the Deeper Magic, and so should all who take It into their flesh and bones. Here, the true Master of Death reigns, He the true bearer of all three Hallows.
It is with Harry that we journey through darkness, pain and strife, with him that we cry and laugh and love, with him that we forge lasting memories of friends and adopted family and school lessons and life lessons, with him that we swallow our fear to fight for what's right, good, true, and beautiful, with him that we learn that we must first die before we can rise from the ashes, and with him that we learn that unconditional, sacrificial love is the greatest, most powerful magic of all.
Oh, I am truly heartsick, and this sickness doth within me dwell for all my days, until I die.
No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever. ...So, whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.
~ J.K. Rowling