Friday, July 13, 2012
Untangling Myself from Devil's Snare: Thoughts on Harry Potter and Grace
This week, I'll admit, has been rough. I allowed some tendrils of despair to wind their way into my soul and start to choke the life out of me.
I don't think there was one day this week that I did all four offices.
I ended up in the emergency room with my daughter.
I was smeared with ugliness from someone whose acceptance I crave.
I started to feel embarrassed about this blog and worried that it was perceived as some poorly written, pointless, narcissistic venture.
Truthfully, that's where I so often get stuck--in the vice-like grip of failure and fear and rejection and embarrassment.
Failure. Fear. Rejection. Embarrassment.
Have you read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? There's this part at the end where Harry, Hermione, and Ron are trying to get to the Sorcerer's Stone, and they have to go through this series of traps to get to it, and one such trap is the Devil's Snare. I couldn't remember the name of the plant this morning, so I looked it up on http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/. This is what that site says about Devil's Snare: "Devil's Snare is a plant with the magical ability to constrict or strangle anything in it surrounding environment or something that happens to touch it. Struggling or resistance to Devil's Snare will cause the plant to exert a greater force of constriction. [. . .] The harder a person struggles against Devil's Snare, the faster and more tightly it binds them; if they relax, it will not kill them as quickly. Devil's Snare prefers a dark, damp environment. It will stop movement in the environment in front of bright light and will recoil away from the heat of fire."
Failure, Fear, Rejection, and Embarrassment are my Devil's Snare. And the more I fight them and struggle against them when my soul is especially dark and damp, the more they strangle, the faster and more tightly they bind me.
I haven't spent the week completely tangled up. There have been moments when my Devil's Snare has recoiled away from light, moments when I stopped struggling and turned toward some light and felt free.
When I actually did the offices I felt free. Usually. Sometimes, the words seemed far away and I didn't connect with them. But often some words were able to wind their way into my soul and untangle things a bit.
Then, yesterday I received the following email from a friend from church:
"I've been feeling the need to re-establish some disciplines, so I started yesterday with the book of hours that you are using. I'm looking forward to it!"
That encouraging email was certainly a bright lantern that loosened the grip of the Devil's Snare.
My most poignant moment of light was on Wednesday night, which was when, for whatever reason, I was fighting most against despair. I had gone to bed to read, and I was sleepy, but then Rachel and I had a funny texting conversation, and I was actually able to laugh a little. After awhile I realized that if I was going to stay awake through Compline that I needed to stop texting. I texted her I needed to go say my evening prayers, and she texted back that her alarm just went off for Compline, so she needed to go, too. I opened The Divine Hours and started to pray,
May the Lord Almighty grant me and those I love a peaceful night and a perfect end. Amen.
And then I started to cry. Because my dear Rachel was praying those words at her home in Manhattan while I was praying those same words at my home here in Kansas City. I understood, for a magical moment, the depth of meaning behind that cascade of prayer to God that I talked about in another blog post. I can't explain it, exactly, but at that moment I felt connected to God and connected to Rachel and connected to the many people in this world, or at least in my time zone, who were offering up those same words to God at that same time. It was a beautiful moment. It was a holy moment. It was a moment where my soul lay free in the lap of grace instead of the choking grip of Devil's Snare.