Retreat leaders and fellow students spent a wonderful time immersed in the world of Harry Potter Friday and Saturday. Lead by senior Nicole Dalbo, the team and those who attended the retreat took part in a number of activities and discussions surrounding Harry Potter and a few of its prominent themes.
The three main themes discussed dealt with relationships, scars and growing up. These themes are present throughout the series, as Harry both finds and loses relationships, he must cope with the reality and implications of his lightning-shaped scar and must grow up in a world that thrusts major responsibilities upon him. Featuring talks given by team leaders, these themes are realities present in the lives of each one of us to greater or lesser degrees.
We find ourselves immersed in relationships, healing from physical and mental scars and finding our way as we learn to grow up and deal with the responsibilities that come with aging.
At the core of these themes was an overall focus on inner strength. Just as Harry had to find the inner strength to see the defeat of Voldemort through to the end, retreatants too were asked to reflect and discuss where they find the inner strength to get through life’s many conflicts.
As a member of the team, it was very moving to watch team members and retreatants engage in conversation, partake in activities, and listen to powerful talks given about the themes discussed.
Whether it was making wands, navigating the corridors of the Chapman Lake retreat house, writing letters, shouting out the answers to trivia, waking up to Quidditch training, or reflecting upon our own journeys with Harry Potter, I felt a strong sense of support and community that was made possible by everyone present at the retreat.
One of the beautiful truths of the Harry Potter series is the reality of friendship and community, particularly during difficult times. This same sense of friendship and community was present in the group gathered at Chapman Lake.
The moderator of the retreat, Rev. Richard Malloy, S.J., closed with some powerful remarks. He told us to never underestimate the power of a story and further, never to underestimate the power of the imagination. The world of Harry Potter and its incredible influence on individuals and culture alike is proof of this. The power of a story can change the world or, at the very least, can influence it. For many, Harry Potter is much more than a story. It is a door to the inexpressible depths of the imagination, a way to a world that the reader can create, envision, revisit, and escape to, and it is a picture of joy, excitement, wonder, awe, and adventure.
Reflecting not only on Harry Potter but on the influence of the Spirit of God in our lives, we too can open ourselves up to the magic present in our world today. Malloy explained that the reality of life itself is a type of magic that should not be overlooked. And with regards to ourselves, we should never underestimate the power of our own stories. They are important, worthwhile and ripe with imagination.
We are always encouraged to tell our stories by living our lives in a way which will change the world for the better. To all those thinking about attending the retreat next year, I fervently encourage you to do so. And lastly, to those who were on the retreat and to the members of The University community, always keep the magic alive in your hearts and in your lives.
Nov. 6, 2014