The Muster of Rohan
It spans the horizon, encompassing everything, engulfing all before it. Its heights are menacing in their expanse; its consistency incredible in its uniformity. As it comes it obscures all lights, darkening sight and heart. It is the cloud sent before the forces of Mordor, the ashes of Mt. Doom, and it is the harkener of war.
It is hard to imagine what such an image would look like, for as described this cloud of ash and dust of grey is darker than any weather of the world, more menacing in its lack of activity than any storm. Hard, but not impossible: for in its speed and its intensity it probably most mimics the soot cloud of a volcano seen from far-away: overwhelming in its own capacity, but even more so for what it symbolizes. Here is the equalizing of all things for the worse, the greying out of all color, the dulling out of all details, the covering of the world in a second darkness. No wonder the hearts of the men of Rohan are so demoralized in its presence.
The wise note that this cloud has been stirred up so that the forces of Mordor might walk during the day, not disrupted by the radiant light of the sun. Yet this dull grey sky is also propaganda, a demoralizing agent, meant to blunt the horns of the warriors that stand in opposition to the Dark Lord and place doubt into their hearts. Can such a force truly be resisted? Can an Enemy that can seemingly put the power of nature into his hands be stopped? What hope do any of us have?
The grey sky of the spirit, of the soul, of the person, is equally disheartening, and can come in differing forms: depression and sorrow, hopelessness and fear, opposition and doubt both internal and external. When the Enemy comes to us, tempting us to succumb, to abandon our posts and our promises, such an ashy and sooty cloud often will come in advance. This dull and oppressive mood is meant to weaken our resolve and instill doubt into us, dividing us from both self and community. If that pallor is allowed to take hold of us, then the forces of the Evil One will have an easier time marching upon our own citadels, our own heads and hearts.
And so, we must resist: we must muster our remaining strength and ride against the darkness. The grey sky might cause dissonant in our horns and dullness upon our spears: or, instead, it may cause them to appear as such. Yet, like Theoden king, we set off, even if the ash didn’t seem to threaten us directly, even if the hour seems late already. For the grey sky cannot harm us directly; the spiritual shadow can only impact us if we let it disturb our souls. Light will once more shine forth through the darkness, and with friend and companion, we set off not alone.