I love working with David Rubio. He’s a blessing to me in so many ways. This is just one of them. Here’s something he wrote to me recently. I can’t get this out of my mind.
Benson and I have been reading the Lord of the Rings together (me for the 4th time…him for the 1st) this fall. He is about done & when he finishes, we will watch all three extended versions together in one sitting!
Anyway, as I read through, I came across a passage that is just magical. It has never struck me before, but it is incredible. And so apropos given OC’s study this Spring
Not sure if you are a big Tolkien guy – GUESSING not, since it hasn’t come up before – so it may be that this best saved (if used at all) for a Sunday that I preach this semester. But, I wanted you to see it.
So, so wonderfully true & perfectly said. (I assume you know the basic story even if you aren’t fully aware of the history that this passage refers to. Suffice it to say that the dialogue takes place toward the end of a VERY long journey & after many, many challenges…with the toughest yet to come.)
From Book 4 of the Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. 2nd to last chapter, “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol” (pp. 320-321):
(Sam speaking) ‘There’s a wicked feeling about this place.’ He sniffed. ‘And a smell, I fancy. Do you notice it? A queer kind of a smell, stuffy. I don’t like it.’
‘I don’t like anything here at all,’ said Frodo, ‘step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.’
‘Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. ’And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?’
‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ’But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.’
‘No, sir, of course not. Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that silmaril from the Iron Crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that’s a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it – and the Silmaril went on and came to Earendil. And why, sir, I never though of that before! We’ve got – you’ve got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?’
‘No, they never end as tales,’ said Frodo. ’But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later – or sooner.’