Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Safe Place


 Webster's definition: 

 A place of protection; shelter

 Lemony Snicket's definition: 

A {small} safe place in a dark troubling world.

~ ~ ~
 Literature is filled with 'sanctuaries' and there are many different variations. From countries like Narnia and Hobbiton, homes such as the Burrow (the Weasley's house), schools like Hogwarts and Xavier's School for the Gifted, and a family, like the Cullens.

These sanctuaries or as I call it, Havens of Safety, are what every reader wants to be in. Why though? What about these places make us want to dive into the pages and surround ourselves with the wonder and delight of these far off places?

 ~ ~ ~


A place of magic, mystery, and wonder. Also a place where you go when you least expect it. The beautiful land of Narnia has captured, delighted, and enthralled, readers of all ages for over 50 years. C.S. Lewis' creation of this extraordinary world has pulled at the hearts of many who have gone into old wardrobes and knocked on the back, hoping for snow to come through. Or look at pictures of ships on the sea and imagined the water moving, longing to be taken in completely.

Narnia is a place where children who are lonely, angry, scared, or just plain misfits can find their place. They find strengths they didn't know they possessed  and courage to overcome their greatest weaknesses. First they must overcome the battles within themselves to be able to fight the war that has come to overtake Narnia.

With the exception of Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Horse and His Boy, every time we enter Narnia it's under attack. A country of talking animals, fauns, satyrs, nyads and dryads, walking trees, mystical water gods, and a great lion all under threat of invasion.

It is a country worth fighting for. The Great Lion who breathed life into it, breathes hope into the ones who fight to defend it. 

~ ~ ~


The ideal country living. Small, peaceful, and out of harms way. Which is what encouraged Frodo Baggins to do what others may have thought the impossible. It's the life within Hobbiton that is worth protecting and fighting for. 

A place where young boys dream of adventures or can't even find the courage to talk to a young pretty barmaid. Where great and powerful wizards come and celebrate the 111 birthday party of one of its most...controversial members of the community.

Hobbiton may have seemed little and insignificant on the map of Middle Earth, but to those that call it home then it's a completely different concept. Frodo and his friends dared to do the incredible (or just plain foolishness) and step out of its boundaries to keep all matter of evil out.

To protect and preserve the future for others, sometimes we must do the unthinkable to overcome the impossible.

~ ~ ~

The Burrow

The Burrow, the crazy house belonging to the nine members of the openhearted Weasley family and the only home to Harry Potter. The red headed bunch were by no means a wealthy family and that definitely showed in the shabbiness of the house. Yet, the loud, loving, argumentative, opinionated, and warm spirit of the Weasley clan cannot be outmatched by any family in the series.

Magic as all over the house. From dishes washing themselves to owls delivering mail. The insanity and craziness of the place endears people to it. When the Burrow is set on fire in the sixth book, anyone could break down and cry.

Why would anyone want to attack this simple home?

Where love abides, hate cannot enter in. Where goodness flows, evil cannot rise.

The Burrow may have been attacked, but within its confines comes an incredible strength and courage of all those who battle hate and evil.

~ ~ ~


 For over ten years children who are about to turn 11 eagerly wait outside and watch carefully for a snowy white owl carrying a parchment letter telling them that they're going to a very special place.

Not really.

And yet, with that said, for over ten years people have been captivated by Howarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Those who have always felt different, strange, and out of the ordinary suddenly aren't so strange, unless you're Harry Potter himself...

For Harry who has always been a misfit, he now finds himself the most popular kid there, not like that's a good thing all the time. Harry and his friends come face-to-face with all sorts of odd magical beings. From ogres, unicorns, and house elves, to ghosts, talking portraits, and flying cars.

At Hogwarts, courage is more important than popularity. Books and cleverness can sometimes make for a lonely life, but when you reach out the hand of friendship, they can save you; and to find your place, you must first find yourself.

Who wouldn't want to live there?!

Harry and his friends battle evil from the very beginning, but in the fifth book, the ultimate evil, Voldemort, is back and Hogwarts, Harry Potter's shelter and safety, is under attack. Not if the students have anything to say about it. Harry and his friends create their own force to battle Voldemort and ultimately win in the end...with some help from the adults of course.

A school united will not fall.

By the end of the story, evil is defeated, darkness is vanquished, and Hogwarts still stands strong. Forever there in the mountaintops of Scotland, surrounded by miles of green grass that leads to the Quidditch field, sitting across from the glistening lake that brings new students into it's doors, and where courage is never a trivial matter. (Even if you do get points docked from your house.)

~ ~ ~

Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters

When I went and saw X-Men: First Class, I wasn't expecting much. I was basically going to watch James McAvoy for two hours. I left the theater with a completely different POV. Now, James McAvoy was worth the watch, but what I loved was seeing the beginnings of the school.

In First Class the school was Xavier's old home in Winchester, New York. He turns it into a training ground for the handful of mutants that he and the CIA have gathered.

By the time we reach the first movie that was done in 2001 it is a full fledged school that houses well over a hundred students who study physics and Roman history in the morning and after lunch are trained to walk through walls and create thunder storms. 

Similar to Hogwarts, Xavier's School provides safety and guidance to children who don't belong. In a world that wants to destroy mutants, the school is their one and only shelter. It too, also comes under attack in several of the movies. The school in the eyes of the students as well as their founder are worth protecting and they will go at any lengths to stop whatever evil, human or mutant, from taking over.

~ ~ ~

The Cullen Family

What safety can you find in a family of...vampires? Good question.

The same thing was probably running through Bella Swan's head when Edward brought her to meet them for the first time ("I would be the meal"...). Bella lucked out though. When she becomes the prey for a vampire who wants some fun, the Cullens jump into action to save her. It's pretty much like that throughout the series.

People have fallen in love with the Cullens. All of them beautiful, gifted, and dangerous. All of them with secret pasts they would prefer to keep secret. Their former human lives aren't worth revisiting and yet, not all are happy with their vampire lives. A life of constantly moving, always staying on the edge of things, never being able to grow old, always fearing what people may say or think.

Carlisle Cullen, the father figure and coven leader, literally creates his own family. His wife, Esme, was abused by her first husband and  tried to commit suicide after her infant son dies. His oldest son, Edward was orphaned when his parents died of Spanish flu, the same flu that almost killed him.

Rosalie, his first daughter, he found on the streets of New York after her drunk fiance and his friends gang raped her and beat her until she almost died. Emmett, the second son, was found by Rosalie after he was attacked by a grizzly bear.

Alice and Jasper joined the family later on. Alice lost all her human memory and woke up in an insane asylum and Jasper, a former Civil War hero, has a shady past of recruiting young vampires for wars only to kill them when they were no longer useful.

Yeah, I would have my reservations too. Throughout the Twilight Saga the Cullens prove themselves over and over again. They would lay down all they had (because life isn't an option anymore) to protect people who care nothing about them.

Bella finds within this strange and unusual family safety, comfort, and protection. Each Cullen has their weakness, but their strengths (and I'm not just talking about Emmett) are so much greater. Bella learns about compassion (Carlisle), generosity (Esme), honor (Edward), caution (Rosalie), loyalty (Emmett), kindness (Alice), and courage (Jasper). Such qualities under one roof and guided by a trusting leader can make for such a successful living.

~ ~ ~

So a sanctuary can come in many forms. It can come in an imaginary country, a school for gifted children, or an unusual family. I agree with Lemony Snicket that it's a safe place in a dark and troubling world.

Wasn't that what the Baudelaire children were looking for? A safe place? 

It took 13 books and 13 danger filled foster homes for the children to come to the realization, why don't we create our own sanctuary; our own home?

And that's exactly what they did.

- Ivy

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