My experience with Harry Potter last summer got me thinking about how far I’ve come since I read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”over Christmas 2001.
The movie by the same name came out the fall of my senior year in college. Having been too old and studying abroad for most of the Harry Potter mania, I had to take a crash course in the spelling of Dumbledore and Expelliarmus before covering the movie’s opening for the university newspaper. My roommate gifted me with the first three books in the series.
In one of my favorite interactions in the first book, the wise old headmaster Dumbledore advises Harry that “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” In the final installment of the series, which came more than ten years after the first, Harry meets Dumbledore in a dream-like state. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry,” Dumbledore responds to a question. “But why should that mean it’s not real?”
One of “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling’s great gifts is understanding and describing the process of growing up. Our heads when we are children are filled with wonder and wishes and dreams, and we are subtly taught, or at least I was, that dreams are little more than an escape from reality and we should remember to stay grounded.
Over the past semester, my first in seminary, I have come to realize that my normal mode of existence is inside my head. I forget to express in words and actions my innermost emotions, feelings and reactions to the world around me. Somehow this makes the emotions seem unreal or unimportant, and if I think my emotions and experiences are unimportant, then I think others’ emotions and experiences are unimportant — that’s not good.
My practice for the semester has been to dwell on dreams — and feelings and intangible thoughts — and embody them. Say them, act on them, claim them, without fear. They’re real! Dumbledore told me so.