Sunday, September 04, 2005

Gryffindor House

In the magical world of Harry Potter, students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are divided into four houses based on their personal attributes and characteristics. Ravenclaw houses the cleverest students, Hufflepuff takes the kindest students, and Slytherin welcomes the most devious and ruthless students. But my favorite house, the one that I would want to be in if I were a character from J.K. Rowling's imagination, is Gryffindor, home to the bravest students. Not because I think that I am exceptionally brave, but because I want to be. I have a deep appreciation for courage. I think we all do. We all seem to love stories of heroism, like soldiers who battle our enemies, or people who battle life-threatening illness or life-altering injuries. We love stories of cowboys who ain't afraid of nothin and princes who face down the dragon to rescue the princess in the tower. We admire the quiet courage of people like Mother Theresa who live among the very least and give all they have to care for them. Or of kids who refuse to fall into the destructive lifestyle that their parents have lived out before them. We even love courageous animals, like Lassie. And I think that the reason that bravery appeals to us so deeply is because it takes a great amount of courage to live. Like Bilbo says to Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," and it is. You just never know what might happen when you are outside of the safety of your home. And as some of our nation's gulf coast states have learned this week, you're not always safe inside you home either. In a moment, you can loose everything you have and love. You never know what might be around the corner to disrupt or dismantle your life. And everything we do in life takes some amount of courage. Like loving people, and trusting people, and caring about people. And living a life of faith really takes courage. Trusting in a God whose face we can't see and whose voice echoes not in our ears but in our hearts, and who we don't really understand all the time is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. Because the life that faith leads us into is no spring picnic. Jesus told us that we would be pesecuted because of Him. That we would have trouble in this world. Because the way of Christ is not the way of the world. Perhaps my favorite statement of faith in the Bible is in Daniel 3:17-18, where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego tell King Nebuchadnezzar that, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, o king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, o king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." I love this not because of the first part. It's not that hard to say that God is able to save us from any tragedy. The hard part, the part that takes courage, is saying that even if He does not save us or spare us, we will still be faithful to Him. And it takes a lot of faith to say that too. Here's the way I see it-- it takes courage to have faith, but through your faith the Lord replenishes that store tenfold. And that's what makes us able to stand up and say, "I know my God is able. . .but even if He does not." And that's what makes us able to live-- really live and have life it's very fullest, not merely suffering the slings and arrows, as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet's famous soliloquy. Because faith gives us the courage to step out of our doors and be swept away to wherever the road may take us. To rise above our fear of pain and loss and really love and really trust and really care.

E.E. Cummings once wrote that, "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." And as I find myself (seemingly suddenly) at an age when I should be grown up, I know that this is true. That it takes courage and faith to become who it is that God has created and called me to be. That it takes courage to make the choice to listen to His still small voice whispering, telling me who I am. Those of you familiar with the Potter books know that Harry chose to be in Gryffindor House, where virtue and bravery would be honored and fostered, rather than Slytherin House, where power and winning are encouraged above all things. Harry chose the House that would grow him into who he ought to be, and who he wanted to be. It's a choice that we all have to make at some point. To allow ourselves to be lured by what is important in this world, or to become who it is that God intends for us. I hope it's a choice that I've made with courage.


At 10:19 PM, Blogger Cathryn said...

You are one of the most courageous people that I know, Shanna. You serve as my mentor in so many ways. I love you so much and I know that you will trust God to lead you where you need to go!

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