On the Evils of a Single Day

The Departure of Boromir

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With patient thought, much may be discovered to help decide (Source)

At this point, it would be apt for Aragorn to recall the old saying, “When it rains, it pours.” This single day (February the 26th, if you want to know) is one full of ills for the Ranger from the North: the dispersal of the Fellowships, the death of Boromir, the capturing of Merry and Pippin, the disappearance of Frodo and Sam. All seems to be going against Aragorn, and he wrestles with himself, weighed down by a guilt that he has led the company astray and an uncertainty of what he should do next.

I suspect that it is unlikely that either you or I have ever (or will ever) be attacked by orcs near the falls of Rauros, but how too frequently do we have such miserable days! The days where nothing seems to go our way, where all our anxieties and fears seem really at last, where we doubt ourselves and the steps ahead of us. We are surprised by the soldiers of the Enemy in our own lives – both internally and externally – and everything is scattered. We might seek to take a step back and gaze outward to see what we can see, but we are brought back quickly to reality by the urgent horn-calls of the moment. We might stand by worthy friends looking for comfort, only to find that they look to us for a decision. In those overwhelming hours, what are we to do?

First, we do what we must before we decide on any course of action. “Then let us do first what we must do,” wisely notes Legolas: before the hard choice of following after Frodo or rescuing the other hobbits, the Three Hunters must see to the proper care of Boromir. It is hard for us of the modern era to understand this imperative, I think, unless we are among the rare few that have had to fight in war, but the duty to bury the dead is at the core of ancient societies and among warriors. It is important that one who fought bravely be honored in death, and that their bones not be allowed to be dishonored or desecrated by the foul things of the world. Nevertheless, the last of the Fellowship realize that they cannot linger, and so choose to fulfill their commitment to their fallen comrade in a way with both nobility and speed. All the same, before anything else, what must be done is done.

Second, Aragorn is not hasty in responding to the plight of the day. He is meticulous in examining evidence, looking for clues into what happened, and determining with logic the likeliest course of events. With this patience and thoroughness he can conclude without reasonable doubt which hobbits escaped and which were captured, and while that may not make the decision easier, it makes reflection to his decision more accurate. The other riddles hinted at by the details they uncover – the possibility of Saruman’s forces being present, the new type of soldier among them – will prove valuable information for Aragorn and his friends down the road in Rohan, information that they may have lacked otherwise.

Finally, Aragorn is committed to his decision. “Maybe there is no right choice,” says Gimli. After doing what he must and gathered all the evidence he could, Aragorn thinks, pauses, and decides. In that decisions is some pangs of regrets – that he can no longer guide Frodo, that he would have gone with him to the end – but in the clearness of his heart Aragorn finds decisiveness, and in that a commitment to the new goal. Though all is in chaos among him, and his deeds that day darkened, nevertheless, Aragorn sets out his new course and pursues it without regret. And in his manner – of necessity, of patience, and of commitment – we may learn some kernels of wisdom for our stormy days.


2016’s Reflection: “On Our Tempest of Desire
2015’s Reflection: “On the Good and Tragic Death of Boromir, Captain of Gondor

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