It’s rare that a book captures my attention enough that I’m eager to read it a second or third time. I can occasionally watch movies again and rare that I will marathon watch an entire series, repeatedly, in a very short period of time. Like when I’m quilting.
The Lord of the Rings is that one book series and movie series that I will read and watch over and over again.
Over the last month or so the following quote, one phrase in particular has run through my head, in quite the same way as the music lyrics do. Repeating over and over again until it’s time to journal or write here on the blog.
He hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself. He will never be rid of his need for it.” (Gandalf about Gollum)
“It’s pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had a chance!” (Frodo)
“Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. And some that died deserve life. Can you give it to them Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.” (Gandalf)
“I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened!” (Frodo)
“So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo besides evil. Bilbo was meant to find the ring, in which case you also were meant to have it, and that is an encouraging thought!” (Gandalf)
While I haven’t watched the movies since late September as I marathon quilted, this scene, these words have rattled around my noggin asking me gently to pay attention, to listen, to Ponder.
I must pause here to say that Pondering is both an active and passive process. Sometimes I really spend time thinking and thinking and thinking about something, other times a word will be niggling at the edge of my mind waiting patiently for me to acknowledge it and listen to what it has to say. Even in that acknowledging it might be some time before the thought fully forms.
As I’ve pondered this conversation between Frodo and Gandalf I’m mindful of so much. That life is relational – that people, no matter how I interact with them, have meaning, have dignity and worth.
That it’s important for me to recognize the dignity and worth of the person regardless of how we interact. Gandalf recognized Gollums dignity and worth. Gandalf looked beyond what was right in front of him to see more, to see the potential. That Gollum like Judas and Pontius Pilate and so many others have some part for good, despite the apparent ill. Gandalf never condemned Gollum and Jesus never condemned Judas & Pilate.
That in someones life I might be the “Gollum”. That’s kinda eye opening. And that in that, no matter what I do there’s no way to change it. It’s just the perception. It’s kind of startling and it’s rather painful.
There are situations in life that I’d rather not participate in and yet these are the very situations that have the most to teach us. I remember a conversation with my dad a few weeks before I got married that made this point. While we wish that we’d be able to meander easily through life the reality is it’s a constant learning process, offering opportunities to grow. These challenging moments are the opportunities to become who I’m meant to be, to be patient and kind and loving and caring in spite of. I’ll be quite honest I don’t always live up to the ideal, however I’m learning to be forgiving of myself in this too. I really dislike being impatient, unkind, lacking in charity. Recognizing these moments is becoming much easier and a lot easier to deal with.
Gandalf takes the time to encourage Frodo on this journey, which is not going to be an easy one to be sure. That encouragement doesn’t ease the heaviness in Frodo’s heart and mind but adds to the strength Frodo needs for this journey. Gandalf has no way of knowing how this journey will end, if Frodo will indeed destroy the ring but he knows there is hope and that is encouraging.
Hold onto Hope.