After many years of prodding from my [now adult] daughter – I have recently finished reading The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. A classic of course in every sense of the word as well as an enjoyable read and incredible storyline. I know some people try to find a hidden religious meaning in the story although it is said Tolkien himself denied any kind of allegory.
But what struck me about the book was simply this – it is taken up mostly with the journey. True there are destinations on the road before the ultimate arrival – but the journey is certainly centre stage – and sometime, dare I say it of such a work, the journey is at times a little monotonous.
In this I think the story line really does reflect life. The story of a man handed a burden no one else would have wanted – a ring of all things, and then through the monotony as well as the joy and sorrow, the laughter and the pain of a long journey to reach his destiny – but yet, after the initial relief, never fully loosing the pain of the injuries inflicted upon him on the road.
I suspect many of us can see a reflection of ourselves here. This week I was in touch with a friend who lost a son in tragic circumstances some months ago. She is still broken of course and although healing will come – still it will be partial and life will never be the same. I suspect we could all tell our own story – stories of burdens we did not ask for – stories of pain and brokenness on the journey – stories of reaching the destination only to discover is was not at all we had hoped for.
But through it all Frodo is rarely alone – his faithful friend Sam is always at hand. In addition other close friends encourage, support, advise and comfort. Friendship and fellowship again are central to the story. So to we need friends. One of the very sad things in our world where individualism holds sway is that there are so many friendless people – even in the Christian world sad to say. Yes I know ultimately we have a Friend who never fails, never leaves, and never gives up on us – for that we are eternally grateful – but we also need one another.
May God help us to be a true friend to someone else in our world. It may be that person is a broken searching soul – perhaps a burdened individual with a cross we would shrink from bearing or simply the person next door no one else seems to care about. But perhaps the person searching for friendship and fellowship is you or me. May we in God’s grace find a true friend and a fellowship that will not be broken till we stand on the shores of Gray Havens and set sail for the Blessed Realm of the Undying Lands.