Archives For J.K. Rowling

The scene was this. I took a morning bus ride from Edinburgh to Glasgow. I was to either stay in the confines of beautiful Edinburgh, complete with medieval history and beautiful scenery, or I could make my way to Glasgow, a city full of the unknown. Glasgow was a city that most tourist maps encouraged you to skip or simply wrote that it was a scene of a 50 people being trampled in a football (soccer) match or was a place you had to go through to make it to the west highlands. That was exactly why I needed to be there. Edinburgh was safe. Glasgow was wild.  Besides, I had already been to Edinburgh many times and it was time to move forward. It was time to go away. Away from my fellow Americans. Away from the Away from the expected.

Once I arrived in Glasgow after a short bus trip, I had picked out a hostel to stay in that night and got in a taxi to take me a couple of miles to a beautiful Victorian area overlooking Kelvingrove Park called Park Terrace. Within a minute, I learned that the hostel was full. Glasgow the type of city that only had a one or two hostels because it didn’t attract many cheap post-college students like me. Those who bypassed Glasgow were in essence smarter than me. I was disappointed that the only hostel I knew in town was full but when I stepped outside, the taxi had left and I was left with all my bags on my shoulders to look over the misty and shadowy Kelvingrove Park and see gothic-looking Glasgow University on the other side. Glasgow University is a place that only Tim Burton or J K Rowling could have dreamed of. I looked into the depths of the park and fear crept up on me.

So I began walking through the park, through the valley, over the Kelvin river, and up the next hill to meet the university steps. I quickly found another taxi that helped me find another hostel next to campus and that became my home for the next couple months.

Within a week I got a job at a coffee shop and took up a research position at Glasgow University. God had provided. My journey in Glasgow left me inspired and each time I feel afraid to take a step, I think back to the prayer I said to God at the site overlooking Kelvingrove Park. Take a look above. It is mysterious and daunting but there is something in it that says “go there” and see.

Much like how C.S. Lewis was portrayed in the play and movie Shadowlands (1993), I felt like I was recovering from years of safety and comfort and doing what was expected of me.

Considering the extreme challenges I know so many friends of mine have suffered, it would be insensitive of me to make you think it was a grand sacrifice of mine to go to Glasgow. In fact, I knew that even something happened, I could simply get on a plane and go home. No one told me but something about what happened in Glasgow is that it was necessary to experience discomfort and in some instances, suffer. The same goes for love and any other adventure in life as C.S. Lewis experienced. In the movie, Jack (Lewis) shares,

Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.

Pain is part of life. I can’t explain it completely except that it seems natural and necessary in our development as people. After all, Christ suffered for us so who are we to think that we shouldn’t suffer even a fraction of what he experience? Years before the loss of his wife, Lewis described in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe that we must move our way through the dark wardrobe to enter the land of adventure, Narnia. It requires opening the dark door and forcing ourselves through until we see the light.

Tell me about an experience you had when you felt you truly stepped into the unknown. Was there fear, pain, victory, etc.? 

What did God teach you through that experience?

Prior to watching the movie Iron Lady (2011) I figured that it would be a typical one-sided look at the conservative mind of Margaret Thatcher. Instead I found it as an intriguing study of an ordinary woman from an ordinary background overcoming incredible odds while the supporting character was her conservatism. It helps that the great Meryl Streep plays her (and well deserved the Oscar). Thatcher in the movie is quite quotable and didn’t rise up to become the longest-serving (1979–1990) British Prime Minister of the 20th century, and the only woman ever to have held the post for nothing.

“We will stand on principle… or we will not stand at all.”

There seems to be some truth to the line, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” But how many amazing women don’t get noticed?  The unsung heroes are also the ones I want to know. Even today as a man it seems more difficult for a woman than a man to succeed in a career outside of the home and we should admire them uniquely. My wife and I are blessed and humbled to raise two wonderful daughters and we feel the responsibility to lead them carefully. I’d love to look up to their mother, grandmothers and other female relatives to learn their stories of perseverance. I want to also intentionally introduce the wide variety of female heroes.

There are great women to admire like Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, Joan of Arc, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sally Ride, J.K. Rowling, Harper Lee, or even biblical characters like Mother Mary, Ruth, Sarah, and Hannah, perhaps.  Like Margaret Thatcher, no matter what political philosophy one holds you can’t deny the spirit and tenacity of modern women like Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Oprah Winfrey. These women did some amazing things whether in the forefront or quietly behind the scenes and slowly their story became told with time. I want to tell their stories to my girls and teach them about these women’s strengths and yes even their weaknesses.  I want my girls to understand that none of these women were perfect but they made a difference because of some specific things and possess unique qualities to admire.

The qualities I’ve always admired in women who have made a difference are strength, faith, humility, gratitude, grace, perseverance, drive, patience, loyalty, and creativity.

Now I’m just white, 30-something male living in the burbs.  But I am also a dad who cares about his girls and wants to introduce them to some amazing women as they grow up.

Ladies, what say you?  

Who do you admire and why? Who inspired you when you were growing up?

Who are the unsung female heroes we can look up to?