At the climax of the last Harry Potter book -- and the series -- Harry and his archnemesis, the cruel and evil Voldemort, are in the thick of their final battle. The whole world is at stake. The chapter, titled The King’s Cross, hints at what will happen. Voldemort declares that if Harry surrenders, Voldemort will spare everyone Harry loves. Spoiler alert! Harry accepts Voldemort’s offer. He sacrifices himself for his friends and family and the whole world that he loves.
At once, Harry finds himself in a beautiful white light. All is quiet. He is alone. Suddenly, his beloved teacher, mentor, and hero, the great wizard Dumbledore, joins him. There, the two of them discuss at great length the deepest mysteries of the last seven books, and what they mean for Harry’s next choice: to return to the fight or to accept the quiet of death.
When I think of the great, beautiful silence Elijah experienced in the presence of God, this literary scene comes to mind. Shortly before our passage in 1 Kings 19, Elijah is in so much pain and despair that he simply wants to die. The noise and terror and violence of the world had become too much for him to bear alone.
So God gives Elijah exactly what he needs: one-on-one time. Communion. Silence.
We don’t know what Elijah and God talked about in the silence, or if they even talked at all. We don’t know if Elijah came to understand some mysteries in God’s presence or if he received divine sustenance being in the presence of the Almighty.
But we do know that his experience of God in the silence changed him. And convinced him that he must return to fight the good fight.
In Christ-like fashion, Harry Potter chose to be resurrected to end the fight. Unlike the movie version, where, in Hollywood fashion, Harry overcomes Voldemort’s power with a stronger power, in the book Harry does not defeat Voldemort with a powerful curse: Voldemort’s own deathly curse intended for Harry, deflected by Harry’s blocking charm, boomerangs to end Voldemort. What appeared to be Harry’s defeat was his advantage: because he chose to sacrifice for the love of others, as those who loved him had once sacrificed for him, Harry was able to return.
In their humility, Elijah and Harry learned deeper truths that the powers of this world, like Voldemort, do not deign to even consider: that might does not equal right. That even death cannot defeat the bonds of love. That we must name our fears and our limitations before God for God to show us how to return to the path of life.