On Remaining Who We Truly Are

The Mirror of Galadriel

By Molly Egilsrud

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What shall we become otherwise become? (Source)

Why didn’t Galadriel take the Ring? It was offered to her willingly. Isn’t she more fit to wield it than a wandering hobbit? Unlike Gandalf and Elrond she would not be a Dark Lord, but rather a Queen. She has clearly pondered and looked long into her own mirror, imagining what she would be like with the One Ring, wishing to be a queen so beautiful that “all shall love [her] and despair.”

But when offered, when finally actually tempted, she refuses. “I pass the test. I will diminish and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.” She understands that the glimpse we see of the evil Queen is not her real self. If she took the ring, she would lose not only her autonomy, but her identity. Sure she would start by helping the good people of the world like Sam and the Old Gaffer, but before long she would answer only to the darkness and so be transformed into someone even she wouldn’t recognize.

This not say that it is easy or without sacrifice. Tolkien tells us that Galadriel says those words sadly. She understands that in order to remain herself, the beautiful things she has created must fade and she too must eventually go West. Moreover, she must give up the vision of everyone worshipping her beauty and of being stronger than the foundations of the Earth. But in this sacrifice, she will actually do more to protect the good and free people of Middle Earth. Of course, Frodo may have failed in his journey to Mount Doom, but he would certainly fail if she accepted the Ring.

In this way, Galadriel is not the “biggest tease this side of the Misty Mountains” as previously alleged by this blog, but may have a little bit of wisdom for us Lenten wanders as well, no mirror required. It is so easy for us to think the sins we feel trapped in or the vices we secretly aspire to are our true selves. But really, only when we cast these aside do we find ourselves. Then hopefully we have the joy of discovering that we are better, more selfless, gentler people than we had ever dared hope. But in order to do this, we must make peace with the reality that some of our grand dreams will not come to fruition and that we cannot desperately try to keep everything good and beautiful in our lives the same. Our own Lothlóriens will also fade, but to remain ourselves, we must die to ourselves. Only then can we keep evil people from digging up Bagshot Row.


2016’s Reflection: “On Love
2015’s Reflection: “On What Even the Wisest Cannot Tell

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