The Road to Isengard
Nearly a third of the way through the season of Lent, nearly half of the way though The Lord of the Rings, where do we stand? Where has our journey taken us thus far? What have we gained by Lenten and Tolkien reading, reflection, and action?
Have we become more like Theoden? Have our eyes been opened to secret wonders and legendary marvels that exist all around us? Have we stepped up to carry old burdens with renewed strength and determination? Have we casted away bad counsel and sought out friends of worth and integrity? Have we noted how the tides of the world are changing, and sought to savor what is beautiful, and defend what is good?
Have we become more like Gandalf? Have we striven to provide aid to those around us through almsgiving or other help? Have we taken on leadership and responsibility where our family, friends and colleagues are in need of it? Have we ridden with speed to reach those in most dire straits? Have we mused upon our purpose in the greater Purpose of the world, on something larger than ourselves?
Have we become more like Aragorn? Have we held fast to our promises and the bonds of fellowship? Have we fought valiantly against temptation, vice, and injustice? Have we maintained our hope even in darkness, and our true character even in weariness?
Have we become more like Legolas and Gimli? Have we realized the biases that separate us from others and befriended those that seem different from us? Have we paused upon the beauty of woods and streams, mountains and caves, all of created nature that may be foreign to our eyes? Have we competed not for power but instead in service to others?
Have we become more like our hobbits, Merry and Pippin? Have we by our humility and distinctive character left lasting impressions on those we meet each day? Have we done our small part to move the wheels of the world toward good and peace? Have we through all trials and travails continued to embody Gandalf’s warning:
“These hobbits will sit on the edge of ruin and discuss the pleasures of the table, or the small doings of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, and remoter cousins to the ninth degree, if you encourage them with undue patience.”
Have we continued to enjoy the small, the simple, the things that matter, even as we have wandered far from home?
As we near the midpoint of our journey, have we come to possess “a few well-earned comforts?” If we don’t pause to recognize what we’ve already gained, and express our gratitude for such gifts, will such profit pass us by unnoticed?