"The Mirror of Erised is an ancient, ornate mirror. It has clawed feet and a gold frame inscribed with the phrase " Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi." The mirror shows the most desperate desire of a person's heart, a vision that has been known to drive men mad."
Harry Potter. Even after ten years of teaching elementary school and having many a student who was a fan, I still hadn't read the Harry Potter books until last summer. Not being one who cares too much about the fantasy genre, I just never quite caught the Harry Potter bug. But last summer my girls went from disliking bedtime to begging for bedtime early just so that they could get extra read aloud time from Harry Potter. They were so. into. it! And when I stopped reading for the night, there was almost always an "AWW, MOM! Just a little more?!" chorus that filled our house. So, thank you J.K Rowling. You gave my kids a new level of passion for books and an added layer to their huge imaginations. A walk through the forest last summer wasn't just about nature anymore....it was an opportunity to shop for wands and find the perfect stick to use for their Quidditch broom stick. There was magic around every corner and possibility in every moment.
My kids weren't the only ones entertained by Harry Potter. There were many parts in the story that had me intrigued or entertained too! I recall one chapter in particular that has stuck with me: The Mirror of Erised. Those of you that haven't read the story, the Mirror of Erised is a mirror that Harry finds by accident one night. Erised is DESIRE spelled backwards. Dumbledore explains that the Mirror of Erised shows the "deepest and most desperate desire of our hearts" and it reveals neither truth nor knowledge. When Harry looks into it, he sees his parents (who both died when he was a baby) and family he had never known smiling at him with love. When he sees them, it is as if they are really there surrounding him. He is so deeply drawn to this mirror night after night. It's all he can think of and he can't wait to get back to it again and again.
"And there were his mother and father smiling at him again, and one of his grandfathers nodding happily. Harry sank down to sit on the floor in front of the mirror. There was nothing to stop him from staying here all night with his family. Nothing at all.”
Harry does this until one night Dumbledore tells him that he is going to move the mirror and he didn't want Harry going to look for it. He explained that he had seen many a person get lost or go crazy with that mirror. They spend so much time staring at the mirage of what their hearts most long for in life that they miss out on their REAL life. Dumbledore's words:
"It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible....It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
I related to Harry a bit in this part of the story. For most of my life, the deepest and most desperate desires of my heart would stem from having my dad die when I was four. If I looked into the Mirror of Erised as a child, I would have seen him or the idea of him. I can remember when my each of my kids had just turned four and thinking back to what I must have been like at the same age before my dad died. I saw how deeply they adored their dad (still do) but more than that: how much he adored them. Such an incredible relationship--then and now. Although it made (makes) me so incredibly happy and grateful to see this loving and lasting bond between my kids and their dad, for a long time, I'd feel that dull ache from my childhood desires. It used be embarrassing to admit, but I spent much of my life longing for this kind of adoration, love and comfort that I lost with my dad dying. At the same time, I'd feel like I somehow didn't have the right to miss or ache for something I could hardly remember and that many in the world never had. This deepest desire sometimes felt like a missing piece to my heart and kept me from living whole heartedly. Staring into my Mirror of Erised--dwelling on an idea of something I never knew-- held me back and almost left me looking too much into other people, achievements, or cirumstances for what was within and around me all along: Love and Worthiness. It took me years to hide the mirror and start living with and owning the message of :
Since reading this chapter in Harry Potter, I've often thought of what I would see if I found a real Mirror of Erised today. What would be my heart's deepest desire? Would I just see myself as I am right now like the happiest people that found the Mirror of Erised? If I looked into the mirror today...this moment.. I think yes, yes for the most part, I would see my right now as I am and the steps just ahead of me. Overall, I'm happy. Life is good. Most things are on track and moving along in amazing ways! However, I don't think we always see the same thing because our life is continually changing. We aren't always in the happiest of times. And there are definitely desires, "pulls", or old longings that are stronger than others and hard to shake. They creep up at the most unexpected times.
I'm pretty sure we all have something at our core that pulls at us. Our hearts most deepest and desperate desires. Maybe these desires are things we will never have (and not good for us anyway), maybe we are living them now, and maybe they will be fulfilled in some unexpected form later down the road if we remember to be present and intentional with our life NOW and not "dwell on dreams and forget to live"
* What would you see if you looked into the Mirror of Erised (the most desperate desire of your heart)? What would you have seen five years ago? Power? Love? Freedom? Closeness to God or spirituality? Success? Family? I'm sure for most of you, this might be too personal to share. I mean, the deepest and most desperate desires of our hearts? Might not be something you're going to throw out in a blog comment...ha! I didn't go into detail of what I would have seen if I saw something other than my life now. Again, if I looked in that mirror today, I'd hope to see just what I am right now...staring back at me. For the most part, I think I would. But I have a hunch I'm still not 100% to that point... Happy, yes. But if I'm honest, I know there are some loose heart strings still there.