Well, I’m back.
Honestly, I am surprised to say this and to return to this reflection series for another year. The 2015 collection of postings on The Lord of the Rings succeeded beyond my own expectations, and the weaving of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work into temporary tapestry of Lent remains one of my favorite projects. Nevertheless, at its conclusion, I believed that continuing this effort into another year would only result in redundancy and a sophomore slump in the series’ quality. Nevertheless, the popular response and readers’ requests for another round of reflections challenged me to reconsider. As such, here I am: the Return of the Lent, a renewed Fellowship of the Season, a union between the Two Towering years (I’ll stop now).
Why begin this journey anew and consider the tales of Middle earth once more? Perhaps, as I mused upon in my final post of last year, An Epilogue to a Lenten Lord of the Rings, it is because ultimately “the Lord of the Rings is about the final question: the struggle with life, death, and immortality. It is a story about the passing of wonderful things, about the changing of the world.” Much has changed about the world in the past year, and in many lands there are those who feel the shadow creeping. Nothing seems certain, and the “cracks” are beginning to show. Even setting aside the growing darkness, we have all grown a year old. Since the conclusion of last year’s series I myself have gotten married and moved to England. The final question remains unanswered: the struggle to “Know Ourselves” and grasp the “Higher Things” continues.
All the more reason to return to Frodo and the Fellowship again in this fast-approaching season of Lent. As I argued in my original introductory post to these reflections, entitled A Vision of a Lent of the Lord of the Rings, Lent is the ideal time to read Tolkien’s great work because “as the Fellowship travels toward the great Doom of their time and the changing of the world, so the Christian makes pilgrimage toward the great Doom of the Cross and the changing of the world at the Resurrection.” The beauty of The Lord of the Rings comes from its unquenchable depths: every reading offers new understanding, in a new context, to a new person. There is a simple joy in revisiting an old friend.
A second year of reflections, however, necessitates some changes in writing. Last year’s contemplations remained tightly tethered to the happenings of a particular chapter, and trying to recreate such a meditation would risk crafting a less vibrant echo. Instead, while remaining faithful to the inspiration of the day’s reading, this year I will wander more widely, mingling these considerations with other writings and topics. Within each post, nevertheless, I will leave a link to last year’s reflection should that prove more useful to your reading.
And so, once again, I invite you to take up your copy of The Lord of the Rings and join me in “A Lent of the Lord of the Rings,” beginning on February 1st. You can find a recommended reading schedule for the coming weeks here. Until then, For Frodo.