The Stories that Matter


I'm listening to the rain on my window as I prepare for bed. Sticking to my semester's plan for weekends, I did my work Saturday, leaving Sunday homework free. After church and lunch, I spent the entire rest of the day immersed in watching Lord of the Rings, starting Fellowship at 2:30pm with Sarah and John, taking an hour off for a CLF meeting with my freshmen, then picking back up with the Two Towers.... which I finished at 11pm just half an hour ago. If I didn't have school in the morning, I'd be putting on the coffee and settling in for the long haul with Return of the King. I've never watched all three back to back, but it will happen someday--someday when I'm not trying to graduate from college and still get as much sleep as possible.
But one does not simply return from epic adventures without having to re-adjust to ordinary life, so consider this my day's debriefing.

This semester has been the best for making connections between classes and chapel and life and the crazy wandering thoughts of Sarah Lindsey Peden. Chapel affirms classes, which in turn validate my wonderings, which generally makes life a wonderful thing to be in. If I were to try to explain all the connections I've made, I'd end up sounding like a crazy fool, cause I can't exactly verbalize them yet. It might be years before I can verbalize anything I've learned this year because, as anyone who's ever talked to me (or listened to me trying to talk in Expos) knows, I'm not exactly the best at communicating what I'm thinking. But my heart knows and rejoices at its knowledge, so that's good enough for me right now.

But how does this relate to watching Lord of the Rings? I'll give it a shot--my apologies if I loose you along the way. The grand wonderings I've done recently usually lead back to two things. Ontology and eternality.
My thoughts about my choice of major, about what I read and write and think about, about who I am, where I am in life and how I got to this point, all lead back to that basic question of being. Not only do I wonder who I am, but why I am. Along the way, I forget or remember--depending on the day--my Image-bearing qualities, and the fact that because of those I am part of something so much greater and grander than I possibly could imagine--something eternal. I remember and understand this a little better when I interact with Tolkien's stories.  Sam Gamgee, in his humble gardener's philosophy, shed light on my wonderings tonight with his little speech on stories from the Steps of Cirith Ungol (The Two Towers)

“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? …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 Eärendil. And why, sir, I never thought 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?”

In light of the Great Tale I've fallen into, life seems more secure. The Author know what happens next, and no amount of my squirming around on the page trying to rearrange words is going to change the ultimate end of the story.
                
                     And on that note, this heroine is going to bed.

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