The Road to Isengard
In the title of this short piece, I am not implying any sort of wisdom in the act of drawing with pencil and pen things into life to understand them, even though such an act might parallel well with the method of writing into life such characters. Both, in some manner, might be considered an act of sub-creation, a concept near and dear to Tolkien’s heart. Nor am I suggesting the act of being drawn and quartered, a quite gruesome form of punishment and one upon which I rather not linger.
Instead, I thinking instead of the act of being drawn to something, as Legolas is to the awoken and moving forests. “The trees have eyes,” he says, and they speak a language that the wood elf might learn with time and patience. We do not know exactly why the trees draw Legolas so intensively: perhaps they are so similar and yet so different from his home, or perhaps because they speak to an inner core of his being the led the original Elves to wake the Ents in the beginning. And though Legolas cannot fulfill his desire and spend time in the forest, it is nevertheless clear how much an attraction to his mind it has become by the time he leaves its eaves.
Gimli, on the other hand, is not drawn to the forest: in fact, quite the opposite. He cries aloud and demands to let off the ride before it returns to dwell long among those mysterious trees. Not everything has the same impact on everyone; we are not all drawn to the same wonders. Yet Gimli has his own desire, his own drawing force, in the caves of Aglarond There is something out there that draws us, and in doing so impacts us.
The ac of being drawn is almost a subconscious, irrational experience: it is this sense of both desire and inevitability, this losing control as one slips into awe and wonder. It can serve both masters, both good and evil: the draw of holiness and the draw of sin are both powers in the world, though one is ultimately the great. In this Lenten season, we may find ourselves like Legolas being drawn to some great unknown, some great discovery: or we may find ourselves like Gimli, concerned that we are unwillingly being drawn to a great disaster, a great weakness. The challenge for us is to discern which is which, and how to respond to them.
Sometimes, like Gimli, we may need to rouse ourselves or call for others to bring those we love back from the brink of temptation. Sometimes, like Legolas, we may have to delay embracing what we are being drawn to so that we may fulfill other obligations and responsibilities. But ultimately, like both Elf and Dwarf, we must not forget those things that draw us in, and hold each other accountable to return to them, so that no matter what business or errands are set before us now, we might before the end return to those things that leave us with awe and wonder.