When my oldest child was around 13 years old I was introduced to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Life would never be the same. Since the day Hunter brought home the first book in the series, our family has enjoyed many years of reading, watching, and thoroughly enjoying all things Harry. Yes, we are those people; the ones who actually shed tears walking into a certain theme park in Orlando. I gladly embrace this family obsession.
Think what you want about JK Rowling, but I happen to think she's a genius. She took this midwestern, middle-aged mom on an unexpected adventure with my kids and in the process, taught me a whole lot about life, people, and believe it or not, how to survive a war I wage nearly every day of my life.
One of the more disturbing parts of the HP storyline is the presence of the Dementors. These dark creatures are the guards of the prison, Azkaban. They feed on human happiness and their "kiss" can drain the soul of positive emotion, generating feelings of depression or despair. According to Pottermore, they are the embodiment of what it means to feel utterly hopeless. I know these creatures. Chances are you do too.
For me, I have identified some of the Dementors as those voices of discouragement, both audible and not, that make me feel like I am not qualified, equipped, or deserving enough to see my ideas developed and unleashed. They remind me of my failures and my disappointments. They tell me I don't really have anything worthwhile to say. The most painful thing they tell me is that nothing good or beautiful can grow in a place where thorns and thistles still exist. And of course, the believing me knows life will never be free of thorns and thistles this side of heaven.
In the wizarding world, the secret to fighting a Dementor is the Patronus charm, a spell which casts a Patronus, a silvery-white animal shape, necessary to ward off a Dementor. In my world, I have found my own Patronus charm to wage war against the voices that seek to steal, kill, and destroy. (Before I go any further, let me say to those of you reading this who are concerned about my spiritual well-being and think I've traded the cross for a wand, you're just wrong so don't worry and read on.) Anyway, back to my Patronus. When the Dementors show up, and they really do show up for me on an almost-daily basis, I use my own Patronus charm and cast the one weapon I've found able to defeat the Dementors every, single time - hope.
Seem simple? It isn't. Oh the truth of it might be simple, but the act of choosing it every single day, is not easy. It isn't easy because the Dementors make life dark. Really dark. And reaching for something in the dark seems silly and futile and maddening. So I pray and I beg, sometimes in a whisper and sometimes a scream. Thankfully, hope comes to the dark places when you ask for it. Anne Lamott wrote, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work. You don't give up." Lamott is specifically addressing writers and their need to persistently pursue their work, but her words ring true for anyone finding themselves in a dark place. They remind me hope is determined and faithful. I need to know that.
I have been summoning hope a lot lately. I think it's because I feel like I'm on the verge of some wonderful things happening, which would be an amazing place to be if not for the Dementors. Thankfully, hope can be loud when it has to be. Loud enough to silence the voices that tell me it would be better for me not to dream, not to be brave, and not to be faithful with what I've been given. The thing about hope though, is that it doesn't answer problems, fix brokenness, or heal wounds before it leads you further on. Sometimes, it only gives you enough light to take a step or two in the right direction. I am trying to be okay with that.
I wrote a song with my friend Joel last year about hope needing an anthem. I don't know whether or not this song will ever have a chance to shine anywhere else, but it does cast just enough light to keep me going back into my writing room. Most days, the Dementors stand just outside my writing room door and tell me I shouldn't be in there. I'm embarrassed to say it, but some days I listen to them and walk away. But there are more days when I cast my Patronus and get to work. I do that because I believe other people are battling their own Dementors and maybe, just maybe, I can write the anthem they'll sing when they choose to keep fighting.
HOPE DESERVES AN ANTHEM
Gina Boe / Joel Lindsey
How can words and melodies
Offer any remedy
To weary souls and breaking hearts
How do verses and refrains
Calm a fear or soothe an ache
Or shine a light into the dark
Well I cannot explain this mystery
But I’ve seen it and I’ve felt it and seems to me (that)
Hope deserves an anthem
‘Cause sometimes it's a song
That keeps someone believing
There’s a reason to go on
And people need reminding
Something good is gonna happen
So we sing, we sing
‘Cause hope deserves an anthem
Seems like everywhere I turn
Shouts of anger, doubt and hurt
Are ringing out for all to hear
(So) How much louder should the sound
Of love and grace and truth resound
’Til echoes of despair soon disappear
It might as well be me who holds the pen
To tell someone that they can breathe again
But if this is music you’re meant to compose
Then I will sing it loud enough so everybody knows