It has been a bit longer than I intended, but it has been a very busy couple of week! This past week, Ryan and I took some of the youth group to CiY. It was an awesome week, even though and especially because we only had 3 kids. I found that though I was not a high-schooler, I was immensely blessed and challenged by the week. I think they are getting better and better- challenging the students (and sponsors!) in more striking and memorable ways. Each day had a theme: Grace, Doctrine, Godliness, Influence, and Endurance.
Last Monday was Ryan's and my 1 month anniversary! We joked about it being a great 1 month gift to come to CiY and spend the week living apart in dorm rooms with teenagers. :) But really, we loved being with the kids. I had never acted in the role of sponsor, and I could not have imagined the types of struggles I experienced that week- trying to offer wisdom, while being gentle, while exemplifying Christ, and many other things to those kids. Thank the Lord that Ryan was with me! He was so encouraging when I struggled, and- fantastic husband that he is- made time for our daily devotion every day of CiY! We've been going through the Love Dare devo book for newlyweds that has a devotion per day for the first year of marriage. They are short and sweet, but they have been so great for us and I would absolutely recommend them to other newlyweds- or even couples who've been together a few years! Anyway, it was pretty ironic some of the topics of those devos last week because I really really needed to hear them. Ryan only had to read the title of one and he just looked at me. Wow. God knows what you need.
Also, Aaron Pelsue's band led worship... Unfortunately, he has not learned that skinny jeans are not for boys, let alone 35-year-old men!! :) Okay, but other than that, his band does a great job. And he and his wife have THE MOST beautiful baby girl from Africa...
It's really been such a full couple of weeks it is difficult to remember all of the thoughts I've wanted to articulate here. But I did finally finish Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke about a week and a half-ish ago. It was a great book! She has such epic characters- and a lot of them! I think Dustfinger is still my favourite. Seriously, he's awesome. But all three books- Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath- are beautifully written. Their themes are very interesting, too. I love when multiple themes weave through a story and you just soak it up- and then have this huge AHA! moment when they all come together!
Speaking of beautiful stories, I must confess- I am rereading all of the Harry Potter books AGAIN. As is Ryan. What with the 7th movie coming out in November and next summer... it seemed very proper. But you know, there's another reason why I felt compelled to immerse myself in the story once again. I have read them so much and love them so that they feel rather like home now. Thus, I thought since I am here, beginning a new home with Ryan I would read these books, this story which makes for such a cozy corner in my heart.
From cupboard to four-poster to forest to flying, I am taken to a beautiful place where a war is raging- and the good and the beautiful still conquers the dark, the destructive. And, like Tolkien and his "True Myths," the stories are real. Not real in that they may be documented as historical happenings, but real in the same way that Narnia and Middle Earth are real. The characters are real, and they are beautiful- though they are not extraordinary any more than you and I are (and we are). I think the fact that they are ordinary but willing to be more than they are makes them extraordinary.
And I think we can be, too. If God were sitting in the other seat at the table at Barnes & Noble when we have excited conversations about this beautiful aspect of the story, He would start jumping up and down and cry, "That is exactly what I've been trying to tell you!" If we could, we would see that He is already writing a story much more beautiful, and infinitely more real- and I think we don't realize that He wants it for us more than we even want it. Although, if the veil were drawn back and we could see Things as they really are, we would jump up and down, too, at the prospect of what lies before us. And I'm not saying a thing that hasn't been said a zillion times before! But sometimes people, without realizing it, reveal their yearning to be more than they are. Harry Potter is one example: the story itself, Rowling's characters and themes which reveal her own heart, the masses of people thronging to the book stores and movie theatres gobbling up as much of the story as they can, donning robes and red and gold scarves and glasses in exchange for their dull, daily identities, and even those who don't like the story at all! (Speaking of which, I don't believe people who say they dislike fantasy stories- even if all they read is the news and biographies and textbooks, they still yearn for the story, they just want what's 'real' supposedly. 'Codswallop' as Hagrid says.)
Sometimes these stories create such a deep ache, like a hole in your heart half filled with joy and half with a 'terrible sadness' as Rowling says describing Harry's feeling as he gazes into the Mirror of Erised. How can it be slaked? No amount of reasoning or even rereading can ever completely mollify it. The only satisfaction I have had is in the Lord, knowing that our story isn't done, and when it is, all that will be left to do is to go "Further up and farther in!" No, Harry Potter does not exemplify the single most amazing piece of literature ever written, but it rises to the top of a very large pile of stories that, regardless of their different themes and words, are all part of the same Language, they all ultimately ask the same question. I pray, as you ask it, the roar of the Lion would be your answer, in the sound His Name the promise of unreached shores.