On the Secret Fire That Kindles the Heart

The Steward and the King

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An Ignatian approach (though perhaps wrongly attributed) (Source)

After all the pages, all the trials, all the journeys we have traveled alongside Aragorn, since we first met him so seemingly long ago in Bree, we finally understand. Though it has been hinted at obliquely, with passing reference and subtle inclination, now it has been clear: the kingship, however noble in and of itself, was for Aragorn the final accomplishment necessary to obtain what he secretly had for so long desired and nurtured. Arwen, daughter of Elrond, the evenstar of her people, has come to Minas Tirith. Now, with the downfall of Sauron and the fulfillment of the quest, Aragorn and Arwen may finally have what they have for so long planned: their love fulfilled in marriage.

Though we did not know the inner workings of Strider’s heart, we did recognize there was something driving him forward, even step of the way. At times, it was his duty, or his dedication to friends and fellowship, yet there was always something deeper. This is true of most of the other members of the fellowship: Sam’s love for his master, for example, or Frodo’s commitment to Gandalf and the Shire, come to mind. However, the reality of that secret fire – the details, the nuances, the particulars – were not known to us, even omniscient readers, let alone the other members of the Fellowship. Only Elrond knew what this quest meant for Aragon, or so it was written. Yet the Fellowship benefits from that love that inspired in Strider all his many great deeds.

As we enter into Easter, and as the pilgrimage comes to a close and we think about the journey home, we might wonder ourselves about the secret fire that kindles our own hearts. What is it the wakes us up in the morning in joy and allows us to rest each night in peace? What is it that we work for, that we desire to know or possess, that drives us unceasingly to labor amid hardships?

For some, it may be obvious. Yet for other, it may not be known. We live in unreflective times, where things that are most valued – money, fame, success – do not meet the needed standard of the kindling of the heart. For these are not the sparks that will, flaming from us, set the world ablaze. For what does the money, the fame, the success in the end actually serve? Where do we wish it to take us before the end?

The crown of the kings is fair, and the throne of Gondor strong, and the city of Minas Tirith beautiful to behold. But these are not the things that allowed Aragorn to overcome the weakness of his ancestor and face off with the Dark Lord himself. Instead, it was the secret fire of love that kindled within his heart the unshakable commitment and dedication to the cause. Out of love and service to another Aragorn loved and was a service to all. And in the bliss of marriage and family that now comes to him, it is little wonder that we could consider his days blest.


2016’s Reflection: “On Willingly Laying Down One’s Office
2015’s Reflection: “On the Need for Justice and Mercy

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