Monday, February 13, 2006

Dark have been my dreams of late.

I watched all three extended editions of Lord of the Rings in a row yesterday. I laughed, I cried, I remembered university, I fell in love with Faramir all over again...

What struck me most, however, was not Faramir's lovely eyes but how many times prophetic (OK, "future-shaping", to be P.C.) words were used; both good and evil used them to their advantage, and to their destruction.

The palantir (seeing stone) brought a false strength to Saruman, despair to Denethor, and a threat to Aragorn, but it's interesting to notice that none of what these characters expected happened. Saruman did not end up ruling Middle Earth on as Sauron's right-hand man, Denethor's city did not fall, and Arwen was not taken from Aragorn. Galadriel's pool was the same - a warning, only, of what would happen to the Shire if Frodo failed in his mission. Gandalf told the Balrog that "he shall not pass" and, technically, the Balrog never did. The Mouth of Sauron told Gandalf and Aragorn that Frodo had already died, but he hadn't. Etcetera.

I also noticed how often characters would "recite" prophetic words, whether they believed them or not, whether they helped their case or not, in times of trouble. Gandalf especially repeated the words "I have failed Frodo" often, which was a repetition of what Saruman had spewed at him, trapped and overpowered, from Isengaard. Gandalf took as prophecy, or truth, what was really just a reflection of what he feared most...and Saruman knew to exploit.

So where am I going with this...? [moment to regroup] Why do horoscopes "come true"? Why do high profile Christian "prophets" name and claim things that never happen? Where is the power of an All-Seeing, All-Knowing, Ever-Present God in the midst of a world consumed by the black, billowing heat of heartache and sin and depression and lonliness and hate?

Despite Gandalf's strenth and wisdom, Aragorn's heritage, Frodo's destiny, Denethor's position, Saruman's power, and Elrond's experience the two characters despaired the least were Arwen and Sam. An Elf princess who was being herded of into a ship for half the story, and a simple-minded Hobbit gardener. Arwen knew the ancient prophecies and stuck to them, claiming time and time again, "There is still hope." Sam made promise and stuck to it, loyaly following Frodo into Mordor. We often speculate that Frodo could not have successfully destroyed the ring without Aragorn's diversion at the Black Gate - but where would either of them be without Sam and Arwen?

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth...

Simple faith, simple loyalty, simple hope, simple love. Simply the only way to see past the present is to believe that there is a future - not necessarily one that the church tells us about, or what atheists tell us about, or what our horoscope tells us about - but one that is "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

FRODO: I can’t do this, Sam.

SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened.

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?

SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.


Nikolas said...

I really liked this.

You watched all of them in a row? How did you work it out? And with whom? I'm jealous.

Sarah-Aubrey said...

We started at 1:00 in the afternoon, after Sunday lunch, and finished at about 2:00 a.m., with dinner after "Fellowship of the Ring". I think it worked well because it was relatively unplanned. Just a handful of DVDs, a projector and screen, and a roomfull of couches.

It was delightful. Watching it with a large group of YWAMers, most of which were unknown to me, was particularly comforting.