Lessons from Harry Potter for my first days in La Paz

Maybe I’m a little behind for my generation, but I started reading Harry Potter this summer. What a way to kick off adulthood, right?

For those of you who have read the books, you’ll know what I’m talking about, and for the rest of you, I’ll explain. Professor Dumbledore has this thing called a Pensieve where he can store his thoughts when he isn’t ready to deal with them yet. He uses his wand to draw out the thoughts and put them in this little pool where he can look at them, sort through them, or just leave them there to keep his wizard brain clutter free.

This never really stood out to me until 2 am the other night when I couldn’t sleep. My brain was racing and my heart was pounding, and suddenly I found myself wishing for a Pensieve where I could dump all those concerns and thoughts for the evening and deal with them in the morning. Again, I found myself wishing for a Pensieve when I was home alone all day on Tuesday battling a stomach sickness. A day alone with my thoughts coupled with a quick google search of my symptoms had left me convinced I was dying. Needless to say, these experiences have confirmed that I am not good at being still. It is in silence and stillness that doubt and anxiety seep in, sometimes unconsciously.

And yet I’m learning stillness is a gift. At the office, we begin each day with 30 minutes of stillness and prayer. What before I would have seen as unproductiveness, I now see as a chance to empty my thoughts into a Pensieve of sorts. And I’m realizing that it’s often in this quietness and solitude that I feel closest to the Lord, as I cast all my anxiety on Him.

“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, came a gentle whisper…”
1 King 19:11-12

It’s not always in the big, exciting, adrenaline-pumping moments that the Lord likes to work. Sometimes it’s the quiet, lonely, confusing times when He chooses to speak and to make His presence known.

So here’s to another week of my new South American life, of being still, and unfortunately not of Harry Potter because the books were too heavy for my suitcase.



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