When Harry Potter Came To Church
My son was a huge Harry Potter fan when he was a child. He was only six when the books first started coming out. I remember when he finished Book IV at age seven in five days and it was a “Big Fat Book.” He made me take him to the opening night of the first movie. I had only read the first and second books. I’m not a fantasy/sci-fi kind of reader. I can totally believe in the reality of Mikhail Bulgakov’s, The Master and Margarita and his cat that walks upright and drinks vodka like water. Yet, I have struggled with Harry Potter and finding believability in the story’s premise.
Then the Dementors from Harry’s world came to the church I attend last Sunday. Well they actually came during Lent but I did not participate. On Sunday, the minister posed a question in her sermon: What is Church? Then she started talking about the series on Harry Potter that was conducted during Lent—and I did not participate because as I said I’m not a sci-fi/fantasy type of chick and plus there is loss and sadness when Harry comes to mind.
I will not retell the sermon. You can listen at this link and it is not long (http://stmargaretsdc.podcastpeople.com/posts/60921). I want to share the part that was the heart of the sermon for me. The minister first explained Dementors to those of us who are not in the know (http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Dementor). They take all of your light and any happy thought you have ever had and leave you empty. Then she explained that J.K. Rowling said in an interview that the Dementors represent depression to her. When the minister went in this direction I was floored. I leaned forward, propped my elbows on my knees, balled my hands in to fist and rested them on my chin. I thought, “I need to be ready she is going to tell me something powerful. Something about me.”
And she did. In the end she explained how during Lent they had set up a coat rack with a coat and immolated a huge Dementor. The leader of the workshop created several Patronus (http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Patronus_Charm) out of volleyballs and some kind of tape. The participants had to knock it over. But what if you couldn’t knock over your Demontor (the poverty pimps, the soul killers, mental illness, unjust incarceration etc. etc)? Here is what church is: Then everyone else gets together and pools all of their light—their Patronus—and they help you bum rush that Sucker. Right? That’s what she said. Because that is what Church is—coming together and helping when someone cannot fight their Demontor and all of her light is gone and it is 20 degrees colder for her than everyone else—coming together with your own light and Patronus and knocking her darkness back and helping her stand strong.
Today, someone who was giving me very upsetting news also said something yucky to me. The news was further delivered with indifference and a hunch of the shoulder. It hurt to my core (especially because I believe that this person cares deeply for me and has helped me). The Dementor arrived and took all the goodness and happiness and light I have been finding and I was stuck with nothing—I felt empty and cold.
Then I went to Trader Joe’s to shop for an upcoming picnic at Jazz in the Sculpture Garden tomorrow. I felt bleak. I called E, my best friend, and I told her everything. I was not crying I was still in shock from the news and behavior of the messenger. E listened and then she became enraged. I was long beyond anger and was detaching. I was just shopping and checking things off the list. Eventually I found my way to a cashier. I was still talking to E as I parked my cart and handed the cashier my reusable bags (don’t want to pay that .05 per bag tax).
As the cashier rung up my items I said to E, “I just feel like no one is fighting for me the way I need to be fought for. I want a Me fighting for me. I’m so tired of having to do this. It’s just too hard.” The cashier finished up and before he started to bag my food he said, “Hold on a sec.” And then he disappeared. A few minutes later he returned and said, “I wasn’t trying to ear hustle, but we are fighting for you. Trader Joe’s is fighting for you.” He handed me a lovely bouquet of flowers. The tears I had stuffed down escaped in crocodile size. He went back around to the register, bagged my groceries and I stood there like a fool crying. There was a female customer at a register next to me and she started crying.
The cashier, Omar, came back around and offered me a hug. He asked, “Do you want me to hug you?” He was so innocent. There was not a hint of sexual intention. But since I was a wreck and didn’t know him and I’m not a hugging whore I said, “No thank you. But thank you.” E was sobbing on the line. As I left the store, Omar called out, “It’s gonna get better.” The other woman crying (without knowledge of why she was crying) said, “Yes. It has to get better whatever it is.”
I love flowers and I thought that someone would have given me some by now (You know the whole you went to prison and survived here are some flowers). It wasn’t time was it? What is Church? Turns out I found it in the Trader Joe’s today. Thank you Omar for using your Light to fight off my Dementor. Thank you Kym for defining what we do in Church and its purpose. The flowers are on a table that sits near a window in my bedroom and I can see them from my bed. I’m going to dry them and make them my Patronus.