Two moments from Harry Potter
I really love clean and enriching entertainment.
There are two significant scenes from Harry Potter which really impressed me; both show one of the core messages of the series — which is courage, standing up for what’s right particularly when doing so is very difficult.
Moment #1 “But No-One Came”
The first is in the third book, the context is this:
In the action packed finale of this book, Harry almost dies from the Dementors, while in an effort to save Sirius, in the final moments before he dies he sees someone appear from across the lake and conjure the Patronus charm, one powerful enough to cast out all of the Dementors, in the blurriness of the night and his physical condition he only vaguely sees the person who conjured it, and deduces that it is his father who did it, he tells his friends, they all comment on how that is impossible.
Then as you may know they go back in time and play as it were, a second role in the unfolding of the events of that night. They do things which make the evening unfold as it did before. (Yeah — one of those time travel things like Star Trek)
Now Harry, realising that he has this chance to relive his experience, realises also that he has a great opportunity to see this person who conjured up the patronus and saved him. Believing it was his father, he goes to a spot near that of which he saw the man conjuring it.
In the moments that ensue, the book says (I’m rewinding a bit)
“Whoever had sent that Partonus would be appearing any moment. For a fraction of a second he stood, irresolute, in front of Hagrid’s door. You must not be seen. But he didn’t want to be seen. He wanted to do the seeing… he had to know… And there were the Demontors. They were emerging out of the darkness from every direction, gliding around the edges of the lake, they were moving away from where Harry stood, to the opposite bank… he wouldn’t have to get near them… Harry began to run. He had no thought in his head except his father … if it was him… if it really was him … he had to know, had to find out. The lake was coming nearer and nearer, but there was no sign of anybody. On the opposite bank, he could see tiny glimmers of silver – his own attempts at a Patronus —
There was a bush at the very edge of the water. Harry threw himself behind it, peering desperately through the leaves. On the opposite bank, the glimmers of silver were suddenly extinguished. A terrified excitement shot through him—any moment now—
‘Come on!’ he muttered, staring about. ‘Where are you? Dad, come on—’
But no one came. Harry raised his head to look at the circle of Dementors across the lake. One of them was lowering its hood. It was time for the rescuer to appear—but no one was coming to help this time—
And then it hit him—he understood. He hadn’t seen his father—he had seen himself—“
There is a particular feeling which I get whenever I read this scene or watch the movie, this very special and significant moment carries a powerful introspective message. I’ve put it in italics in the passage, but he realises that “no one was coming” at this moment a powerful realisation dawns upon him, it was not his father, but himself, he had to do it, no-one else.
By realising that it was him, he made it him, it might not have been him before, but it certainly was after he chose for it to be him. He made that person himself, by accepting the moment and responsibility.
What About You?
Are you waiting for someone else to emerge and tell you what to do? Are you waiting for the perfect weather to swoop in before you go out and have some fun? Are you waiting for the right partner to turn up and spice up your love life? Stop waiting.
In our lives we weave our own fate, and frequently there are moments when we realise “no one’s coming” no one is here to educate us, no one is here to feed us, or clothe us, or get us married, or build our career. You and only you are the full master of your life. How much I love that powerfully proactive moment and message.
There is an attitude conceptualised and articulated in this passage, one which could simply be summarised as “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
Moment #2 Face Your Deadly Fears
At the end of the fourth book lord Voldemort has returned, after his reincarnation ceremony was complete, his death eaters all assemble at his injunction. After speaking to them briefly, he faces Harry, who at this stage is bound to a tombstone (I think). He releases him and challenges him to a dual, Voldemort tortures Harry with the crustaceous curse, and then tries to control him with the imperious curse, all in an effort to toy with him, to make him beg for death, rather than live in such suffering.
Again I quote from the book (after Voldemort had cursed him once with intense pain)
“A little break,” said Voldemort, the slit-like nostrils dilating with excitement, “a little pause… That hurt, didn’t it. Harry? You don’t want me to do that again, do you?” Harry didn’t answer. He was going to die like Cedric, those pitiless red eyes were telling him so… he was going to die, and there was nothing he could do about it… but he wasn’t going to play along. He wasn’t going to obey Voldemort… he wasn’t going to beg… “I asked you whether you want me to do that again,” said Voldemort softly. “Answer me! Imperio” And Harry felt, for the third time in his life, the sensation that his mind had been wiped of all thought… Ah, it was bliss, not to think, it was as though he were floating, dreaming …just answer no… say no… just answer no… I will not, said a stronger voice, in the back of his head, I won’t answer… Just answer no… I won’t do it, I won’t say it… Just answer no…
And these words burst from Harry’s mouth; they echoed through the graveyard, and the dream state was lifted as suddenly as though cold water had been thrown over him—back rushed the aches that the Cruciatus Curse had left all over his body—back rushed the realization of where he was, and what he was facing… “You won’t?” said Voldemort quietly, and the Death Eaters were not laughing now. “You won’t say no? Harry, obedience is a virtue I need to teach you before you die… Perhaps another little dose of pain?” Voldemort raised his wand, but this time Harry was ready; with the reflexes born of his Quidditch training, he flung himself sideways onto the ground; he rolled behind the marble headstone of Voldemort s father, and he heard it crack as the curse missed him. “We are not playing hide-and-seek, Harry,” said Voldemort’s soft, cold voice, drawing nearer, as the Death Eaters laughed. “You cannot hide from me. Does this mean you are tired of our duel? Does this mean that you would prefer me to finish it now, Harry? Come out, Harry… come out and play, then… it will be quick… it might even be painless… I would not know… I have never died…”
Harry crouched behind the headstone and knew the end had come. There was no hope… no help to be had. And as he heard Voldemort draw nearer still, he knew one thing only, and it was beyond fear or reason: He was not going to die crouching here like a child playing hide-and-seek; he was not going to die kneeling at Voldemort s feet… he was going to die upright like his father, and he was going to die trying to defend himself, even if no defence was possible…
Before Voldemort could stick his snakelike face around the headstone. Harry stood up… he gripped his wand tightly in his hand, thrust it out in front of him, and threw himself around the headstone, facing Voldemort.”
Now you’ll recall at this stage Priori Incantatem occurs and it saves his life etc etc. but the point was already made by then.
In this scene, beyond all reason, he chose to stand up and fight and die like a man instead of on the ground like a child. There really was no hope, he didn’t know the Priori Incantatem even existed, let alone that it would occur. As far as he was concerned, it was certain death either way.
What About You?
Are you hiding in any way from your greatest fear? Is there something in your life that is holding you back due to your fear of it? How can you step aside from the “tombstone” that is protecting you to conquer this fear and bring yourself to the next level?
Though these are just stories, and are actually not real, they nevertheless communicate a powerful message of being proactive, of courage, valour. Have we the same courage to stand up for what we know is right? Have we the same resolution to act when it appears that no one else will act? Have we the audacity to stare death in the face and not flinch?
This is the meaning of faith. The courage to hope against hope, and to keep trying, even against all odds.