"The Dark Mark & Muggles: a reflection on 9-11-01"

A's Note: This is not fiction. The hours before the phone finally rang on Tuesday were horrible. (Oh, and I already reported myself for posting a non-fiction.)

"Ron, You-Know-Who and his followers sent the Dark Mark into the air whenever they killed," said Mr. Weasley. "The terror it inspired . . . you have no idea, you're too young. Just picture coming home and finding the Dark Mark hovering over your house, and knowing what you're about to find inside. . ." Mr. Weasley winced. "Everyone's worst fear. . . the very worst. . ."

-HP & The Goblet of Fire, chapter nine

I have lived in the magical world for a time now. Before I met Harry Potter I met Merlin, Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm, Disney, and countless others who whispered of a different kind of place and time. It was a place and time where fairy dust and magic wands could make things of wonder and where good always triumphed over evil.

Yesterday I saw a dark mark hovering over a city I love and where people I love have lived and worked. Foul black smoke roiled into the sky, belched from horribly wounded towers that were home to countless workers and wondering tourists. This was no fiction.

Although the scenes played out on television looked like something thought up by Hollywood for a summer blockbuster about monsters or space debris, it was not. This was all too real. The fire. The bodies falling along with paper from the upper stories were real. They were parents, siblings, children, and friends.

The people who sat on jet planes that buried themselves in the towers and became fireballs were real. The people who died in the plane and in the tower were real. Those who rushed to help and were killed when the towers came down like houses of cards were all real. Those killed as another plane buried itself in a Pennsylvania field were real. The people who died as yet another buried itself in the side of the Pentagon were all real. One minute they had hope, the next they had death. On the planes, hundreds. In the Pentagon, hundreds. Rescue workers crushed, hundreds. In the tower, thousands.

The reality of them slams us back and stuns us, even as our minds refuse to comprehend that this reality is possible. But it is real. Evil is real. It lives and breathes in our real world... a real world where there are no protective incantations or charms.

The reality is personal for me. I've been to the top of the towers and stood at "the edge of the world" with only thick glass between me and the sky over a hundred storeys up. I had a chance to imagine what it was like to float. And I had hours yesterday to imagine what might have happened to my Father who works for a business in the towers. I had hours to contemplate my worst fear... the very worst... before the phone finally rang.

No one who understands what happened yesterday is "too young to understand" what the fictional Mr. Weasley was trying to explain. Yet, unlike Voldemort this evil is all-too-real and we don't have the comfort of knowing that J.K. Rowling will be sure the good-guys win in the end.

But I believe there is another author at work to help us all be sure the "good guys" do win in the end. I call that author "God." You may call it a "higher power," "Allah," "the indomitable human spirit," or countless other things. There is something larger than ourselves which connects us and helps us through. Yes, the evil we have seen is real, but so is that fact that most people are basically decent and that the universe demands that good triumph in the end.

We have seen a the dark mark of evil hovering over the sky of Manhattan and we grieve as we must, as we should. But we must not lose hope. Rowling's books are fiction, but they highlight something that is not: there is evil in the world and those who are good are called to struggle against it. There are more of "us" than there are of "them," but even if that were not true, we would still triumph in the end. We will walk through more "valleys of the shadow of death" in our lives before all is said and done, but we can do so knowing that we will "dwell in the house of the Lord forever."