For this installment, Hermione is still a girl.
Hermione spends a lot of time wondering what to do with her vast (but scattered) intellect & predilection for helping people, so she has decided that she wants to take advanced courses over the next couple of years. Divination surely has its uses, but Hermione still perceives limits (& recognizes that muggles outright abuse “the noble art of divination,” as Trelawney put it).
Hermione had met with an advisor & was told if she wants to help people in a new way, she should receive that same sort of counseling herself, which of course makes marvelous sense. So Hermione made an appointment with none other than Minerva McGonagall to make sure she is doing all the Absolute Best & Right Things.
McGonagall’s office is in a serene and wooded space with glorious views of the trees. When Hermione arrives, the sun is shining, the air is sweet, & the waiting area is bathed in golden rays.
McGonagalls typically have a stern reputation, but when Hermione meets her, she has kindly eyes & a slow, deliberate, warm way of speaking. Hermione immediately calculates all the ways this could go horribly wrong, & is determined to modulate her tone & speed for this gentle, learned woman.
Girls plan while God howls with laughter.
Once in the office, McGonagall asks what Hermione wishes to accomplish. Hermione launches into a breathless half hour diatribe about her mission in life (helping! Always helping!) with frequent forays into friends at Hogwarts & conundrums as to how to get everything all done right (the first time!) & wouldn’t it be wonderful to just understand immediately What Is Needed of her because surely she is Needed & surely she Isn’t Doing Enough.
McGonagall listens quietly for a while, then says “You have a very active mind, Miss Granger. I wonder if you ever stop it for moment & just listen? To the trees, to your heart, to the words in all the Important Books you read?” Her tone is kind, not mocking.
Hermione makes a face & stares out the window. “Well, I’m always noticing those things & paying attention to them while I’m doing other stuff &…”
“Miss Granger,” says McGonagall, peering with smiling eyes behind her glasses, “it would appear the answer is no.”
Hermione is confused, because Hermione is Always Trying To Do The Right Thing. And apparently Doing The Right Thing sometimes means not doing anything. Anything? Hermione is clearly perplexed by this concept, so McGonagall offers a bit of homework. Hermione understands homework & is very excited to do it well.
“Find 15 minutes in your morning, Miss Granger, to just listen. Not to think, but listen. You may read, but after the reading you must pick a word to meditate upon & notice whatever it is saying to you.”
Hermione is very excited because of course she can do that. But then suddenly Hermione feels like crying.
“15 entire minutes? In a row?” She asks meekly.
“My dear Miss Granger,” says McGonagall, “how do you ever expect to learn if you don’t listen?”
And now Hermione really feels like crying, because although she spends her day listening to other people, she never really gives more than a minute or two of her time to just Listening to…inside.
She confesses to the professor that she feels like crying, so this must be Important.
Professor McGonagall gives Hermione a specific book, chapter, & verses to read & meditate upon (a relief, because Hermione can think about books) & then they arrange to see each other again soon.
Hermione is very fond of Professor McGonagall & wants to make her proud. She is determined to Listen for 15 minutes the very next morning.
The very next morning, Hermione does all the reading quickly, so she can Listen for 15 minutes, but then answers 14 questions from classmates, all before getting out of bed, & Hermione realizes she has failed the assignment.
She will try again tomorrow.
There is probably some psychologically damaged reason I have chosen this method to discuss my theological efforts. For now it is sufficient to note that as I am forced to become a student again, my Hermione-ness is showing. And will probably get worse when I enroll in classes. So. Sorry in advance.