Monday, July 23, 2007

Magic is Afoot


I happen to know two people who celebrated birthdays this weekend and I'm so glad both were born, but the real gift was Saturday’s arrival of the latest and last book in the Harry Potter series. I’d ordered it months ago. Months. As I’d had some less-than-totally-satisfactory delivery experiences with earlier volumes, I was Girl Scout prepared for this one.

Imagine my delight when all my visualized scenarios evaporated as I heard the book thud onto our marble front steps at 6:44 AM! I was so pleased that I was actually able to discipline myself to stay on my own writing schedule before I even opened the package. Just knowing it was here was enough.

Around 8:54 AM I opened Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling and just let it sit on my desk in silence, glowing. Perhaps I was the one glowing, but it could have been the orangey Mary GrandPr√© cover too. I kept whispering to myself, “It’s here. It’s here!”

Finally, I couldn’t stand it, and I fell into the meticulously-crafted world of wizards and witches and the ultimate battle of good and evil, and I was completely quiet. My whole house was silent. I ate up the words till 3 PM when my eyes gave out and I had to take a nap. I was about 400 pages in. A little over half-way.

Up again, eyes rested, I carried on. Reading ever faster. I moved chairs from time to time so I wouldn’t get stiff. I read in the kitchen, in my office, in the living room, on the porch. I knew I had to finish it before I could go to sleep.

I got emails from friends. They were jealous that my copy had come so early. One was already done and wanted to talk about it. Another wanted to talk after we both finished it. This was a much anticipated book.

The further and further I went into Harry’s world, the quieter I became, and the quieter my house became. Reading is, for me, a silent pleasure. The peace that silence brings with it “enables me to experience and absorb it all more intensely.” (I’m quoting Tijn Touber in the June issue of Ode Magazine, where I’m part of the team of Readers Bloggers, from an article he wrote on his experience of a silent retreat.)

It was 10:07 PM when I finished the book. I sat under a Victorian stained glass lamp on my sofa in the living room and clasped the book to my chest. Silent. Pleasure. Oh yes. J. K. Rowling fulfills every storyline and then some in this final volume. Well worth the wait. I’ll start it again in the morning and read more slowly next time.

I couldn’t call my friend to talk it through though, not last night. Instead, I had to hug the book to myself for a little while. In the silence. With the pleasure. As we say in my neck of the woods,

Mazel Tov, J. K. Rowling!

Thank you and bless you for writing Harry Potter.

One other thought. It did not escape me that as millions of Americans were sitting down with a book about the battle between good and evil that we had a different president than our usual one. Mr. Bush was having minor surgery so for 2 ½ hours Mr. Cheney was president. Thank God, magic was afoot.

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