On Hearing the Story Told

The Field of Cormallen


“The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung, that once went singing southward when all the world was young” (Source)

It is Easter morning on the Field of Cormallen: the day has dawned into unexpected joy, for the shadowy hand of the Enemy has been shown impotent, and his forces have been scattered and subdued. Upon awaking, there is much to celebrate: reunion of relationships, good things set aright, a new hope for man. Yet of all the great and glorious things to occur, what most moves our beloved Samwise to tears? A simple, seemingly insignificant request: “I will sing to you of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom.”

We too have been in quite the tale, and on Easter (especially at an Easter Vigil Mass) we hear the story told in full. We hear of the creation of the world and the fall of man, the burden of sin and the toils of slavery, the trust of Abraham and the obedience of Moses, the miracles out of Egypt and the promises of Isaiah, and finally we conclude with the Resurrection itself: the empty tomb, the angelic enigma, the unexpected appearance. It is a lay that rouses our souls to both merriment and tears, woven with the words of Hebrew, Latin, and our own native tongues. It is a ballad that pierces our hearts with its beauty and overflows our being with joy. It is the story of salvation, of “great glory and splendour,” of blessedness. All our wishes have also come true.

For though we have been part of this tale, to hear it told is an entirely different experience. In listening to the lay of salvation, we realize its scale and its scope, its depths and its detail. For we who have walked with Frodo and Sam now come to know the trials and triumphs of Merry and Pippin, and we who have followed in the footsteps of man, dwarf, and elf in the south learn of the valor and victories of the war in the north. Every person has played a role in the story, whether great or small. And while our attention naturally lingers on the actions of Frodo, and Gandalf, and Aragorn (that is to say Christ), nevertheless in this tale we hear do we in some capacity appear.

And the story continues. For though lay concludes on the slopes of Mt. Doom, there is still work to be done. The victory has been won, but there remain the walls of dark fortresses to cast down, and towns to rebuild, and hurts to heal. The power of death has been broken, yet the mission remains: the Gospel, the works of mercy, the repairing of the world. Though the Ring has been destroyed and the Tomb found empty, nevertheless there remain pages yet to turn.

That is the beauty in hearing the story told, why such words should move us to tears. For in the song of salvation we remember the trials and travails, the hardships and the sufferings, and we weep in recalling their pains. Yet we also relive the joys and wonders, the marvels and the awe, and we weep with happy laughter in recalling their delight. It is the greatest story ever told, a story that stretches back and continues forward, a story in which we all are born, and live, and die, and are reborn. Such a story inspires us to renew our work and recommit our lives. For the victory has already been won, and all our wishes have come true, and now matter the sorrows and sins that linger, nevertheless with Easter spirit is everyday a celebration of blessedness.

2015’s Reflection: “On Glory


2 thoughts on “On Hearing the Story Told

  1. I want to thank you for all the beautiful reflections you have posted. Though I found your blog too late in the season to be able to follow the readings, I still got a good deal of out of the thoughtful reflections on my favourite book. I found them very inspiring and they encouraged me in my resolution to more consciously practice charity during Lent. Thank you.


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