Earlier this week I had the pleasure of seeing one of my boys (by “my boys” I mean one of the boys I have had the pleasure of having in my class). His mamma was getting after him about something and he looked at her hands (dyed black from batiking all morning) and said, “When were you destroying horcruxes?! Are you Dumbledore now?!” completely disarming mamma and cracking me up.
Horcruxes, if you’re not acquainted with the wizarding world of Harry Potter (“which I am,” the teacher says to herself with her best Indigo Montoya voice), are objects into which slivers of one’s soul have been hidden in order to protect it and therefore protect one’s life in order to maintain immortality. They are very dark magic and are how the villain of the series continues to cause mayhem having seemingly been obliterated at some point 10 years before the beginning of the first book. Soul containers are not unique to the Potterverse as there are references to objects purported to hold onto a piece of one’s soul for safe keeping outside the body throughout the ancient world, although generally they’re meant to hold the soul after death as a remembrance in order to keep the soul memory alive within the family unit.
When my young friend mentioned horcruxes it got me thinking about a very beautiful and honest reality of how we live our lives, which is tangentially connected to what I wrote about in Being Seen.
As we go through our lives, hopefully living authentically and giving those we meet the full pleasure of knowing the truth of who we are, people come and go in various relationships ranging from casual encounters online or in person to intimate friendships and romances. With every encounter we leave with them a piece of ourselves, like little horcruxes with slivers of our soul inside. We have an infinite number of pieces so when we leave them behind we don’t notice that the pieces are no longer with us. Sometimes we leave a single, solitary bit while other times we leave handfuls, yet no matter how much we leave, we don’t really realize we are doing it.
Then something happens. There’s illness, loss, trauma, brokenness, sorrow, or despair and somewhere we get lost like Hansel and Gretel in the woods. Only instead of shiny, white pebbles or bits of bread leading us back from whence we came, out of the woods emerge…
A journal entry
A song connected to a memory
A smell that takes us back to a specific time and a specific place with a specific someone
A friendly face that *just happened* to pop back into our life in this time
And connected to each one there is a piece of us that at some point we left behind.
Those erstwhile denizens of a past we had lost, those forgotten pieces, each one reminding us of who we were in those times long past, speak gently to our soul about who we were once and what we were capable of as they gather before us. Connected to each piece of us is another piece, a piece that tells us what those we have known see in us, those beautiful, greater things that somehow have remained lost to us in our reflections of self:
able to persevere
One piece after another falls into place, both the pieces we left and the mysterious ones that have come back connected to them. We don’t see it at first, but as each piece comes together a little more of the picture becomes clear until we realize that what we’re looking at is…
In that image that emerges before you are all the best parts of you reflected in a thousand tiny horcruxes that were held onto by those you have known through different points in your life and hidden away in your memories only to be discovered again in your darkest moment.
And as you’re reminded of who you really are, you’re suddenly able to find your strength, your courage, and your way out of the darkness.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ll journey in the darkness before you get through it because you’re assured you have what it takes to persevere and push through until you see the light once more.
To the keepers of my horcruxes:
Thank you for reminding me who I am.