Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Mirror of Erised

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Harry finds the Mirror of Erised. When Harry looks into the mirror he sees himself with his parents. When Ron looks into it he sees himself as Head Boy and the Quidditch Captain holding the Quidditch Cup. Professor Dumbledore explains that “the mirror shows us the deepest desires of our hearts. It gives us neither knowledge or truth. We must not dwell on dreams and forget to live”.

 The Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
One of the greatest thing about reading books like the Harry Potter series is we get to witness the epic lives of the characters in the books. We laugh with Harry when he traps Dudley in the snake pen, or when Harry tries to ask Cho to the Yule Ball. We cry with him when Serius or Dobby die. We swell with pride when Harry conjures his patronus for the first time. The same is true about the characters in Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings. It doesn’t matter what the book or movie, we can lose ourselves in them just like the mirror of Erised. If we are not careful we can live our lives through the characters of a book instead of living our own lives. Saying that does not mean I don’t love to read, I do. I love the classics and other books. I really like to read the historical fiction where fictional characters are used to tell historical events.

When we look at our lives or our family and friends we don’t see the epic lives like we read in the books. But if we really look at our lives they are more epic than story book characters because they are real. When we read a biography or accounts from history, the people we read about probably did not think their lives were all that exciting or epic. There are some exceptions to this like the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I’m sure they knew that what they were doing would change history. But before that they probably thought their lives were mostly normal and not worthy of the history books.

When we take the time to write down events that happen in our lives, even ones that seem ordinary when we read them later you will see how epic our lives really are. Our family recently had a family reunion where we celebrated the 90th birthday of my mother. All six children, five boys and one girl, of mom and  dad (my dad passed away in 2006) were there along with many grandchildren and great grandchildren. One of the fun things we did was show movies of past family reunions when many of our children where the age of the great grandchildren. The great grandchildren loved watching their parents doing silly things. Each evening we sat around a fire or in the pavilion telling stories of when we were young. Stories were told of playing hide and seek with our friends as we ran all over the neighborhood, stories were told of growing up working at Hal’s Drive Inn (like McDonalds), stories of our town cop that looked and acted like Barney from the TV Show Andy Griffith, stories of how we managed to stay out of Dad’s court (he was the Justice of the Peace for our town) when we got into mischief, and stories of meeting our wives and getting married.

4 Generation of Potters - My part of the family is in red!
Some of the stories I told were falling in love with Peggy Sue in the third grade. All the boys were in love with Peggy Sue. I even bought her a plastic diamond ring. The story of how I broke the school cross country record running bare foot was a favorite with the great grandchildren. The time in high school when I flunked speech class when I gave a speech about making chocolate chip cookies (you had to be there) was my favorite. I told stories of practical jokes played on teachers, going to prom, how I managed to get accepted to Brigham Young University, dancing with the BYU Folk Dancers, playing soccer for BYU and eventually deciding to serve an LDS Mission.

The third generation (our children) are now old enough that they have exciting stories to tell. My son, John, told a story of when he went to Florida one summer to sell animated stories from the scriptures. It was a disaster for him and one day he was in a car accident and totaled his VW Rabbit. The car was still able to drive and he had no other way to get home so he drove the car 3000 miles from Florida to Utah. The windows were all broken out and the sides all bashed in but he could drive it. On the way home it rained and even snowed, he almost froze to death but he managed to get home to Logan, Utah. When he tells the story it is a lot funnier.

I am in the process of writing down stories from my life. The book is called Stories of the Real Harry Potter. I have included stories of growing up in Argos, Indiana; stories from my elementary and high school years, my college years, my mission, marriage and family. I have included faith promoting stories like “The Ironic Priesthood”, my dream of becoming an airline pilot, deciding to serve a mission, how I met and married my wife, my call as a bishop, and many other times when the Lord had a hand in directing my life and protecting me or my family.

Our children, great grandchildren and beyond will read these stories and know how epic our lives really were. But it will only happen if we take the time to record them. The inscription on the mirror of Erised (which is desire spelled backards) says “Erised stra ehru oy tube cafru oyt on wohsi”. If you look at that statement in a mirror and changed the spacing it reads “I show not your face but your heart’s desire”. What is it that we desire most of all? I believe it is that our posterity will know that the lives we lived were epic and that we lived lives of faith and integrity.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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