The King of the Golden Hall
by Kevin Sullivan
“Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?”
Our weary travelers cross the long expanse of Rohan bearing both the weight of their broken Fellowship and lightened by the coming of the White Rider. The land is quiet. It is not desolate, but it is not in its fullness. Edoras, and Meduseld, the great golden hall of the Riddermark, rises before them.
Again we are captivated with a longing that is deeper than nostalgia. This land was once great, but it has fallen into complacency and under the influence of evil whispers. Whispers that are delivered as serpent’s hisses, from the forked tongue of aptly-named Wormtongue. Do we listen to these whispers that paralyze us, like Théoden? Do we listen to whispers of fear, whispers of distrust, whispers of doubt? Our Lord was tempted with earthly greatness and power over the nations. In reality, accepting these temptations shows what they really mean. Théoden is crippled with inaction and is bombarded with constant fear of losing the kingdom forever. Wormtongue’s deceits may in essence be true – coming to the aid of Gondor and heeding the travelers may mean the end of Rohan. But in protecting our earthly possessions, we end up bowing down to them.
Would we not rather submit to the great cause in the battle against Evil? Would that submission not in the end lead to us standing side by side with our King in glory?
The prophet Joel started us on our Lenten pilgrimage:
“Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’””
Like Joel, the mysterious travelers come also as prophets. Théoden and the riders of Rohan heed their words, placing their trust in the return of the King. Chasing off our own “Wormtongue” does not guarantee that our battle with our demons is over. Instead, it gives us the freedom to follow the King into the final battle. The trumpets blow in Rohan! Let us take heart and blow the trumpets in Zion!
“Arise now, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Dire deeds asake, dark is it eastward.
Let horse be bridled, horn be sounded!