Stepping Out of Middle Earth


Yesterday evening, I went with my husband to witness something very, very close to my heart: the closing of Middle Earth. Thirteen years ago this month, I was taken to the movies by dear friends, to watch “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”, and, honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into, storywise. Not really. I had begun reading The Fellowship of the Ring a little before those but had gotten busy with my sophomore year of college and set it aside for the time being. Now, after having dress-rehearsed all morning for my first performance on the SCF/Kappa Chi team for the Musical Madness competition, I gathered with those friends to see this film. Needless to say, I was seized, captured, and enthralled.

For the next two years, it became tradition for me to treat my friends to the midnight showing of each subsequent chapter of the Lord of the Rings as a Christmas gift, before we all parted ways for the holidays. I cannot tell you the fun of those nights, going out to dinner with my friends and then getting to the theatre early to garner good seats together. Then, each time, I would lose myself in Middle Earth, travelling on this harrowing adventure with Hobbit, Elf, Wizard, and Man.

In the thirteen years since seeing FOTR, I have devoured the books as well as The SilmarillionThe Books of Lost Tales, and written a collection of my own Tolkien tales. I learned a great deal from an excellent professor who is also a great lover of Tolkien. I learned to speak Sindarin Elvish (memorization and transliteration until it rolled off my tongue, sang in Rohirric, and had two papers published. When I saw that Peter Jackson as extending his movie magic to The Hobbit, I rejoiced. An Unexpected Journey was the first movie I watched with my newborn daughter and, now, my husband and I seized the opportunity (and the kindness of his parents) to close out the Red Book together. At the end, as Billy Boyd sang “The Last Goodbye” and Alan Lee’s beautiful drawings scrolled over the screen, I sat and sobbed. My husband was, admittedly, a little incredulous, but I begged him to let me have my moment for tears.

I grieved for the characters lost, for the pain endured, but I also wept for the ending of an era, for the closing not only of the Red Book but for that chapter of my life. There is now a banking of that fiery passion that burned so hotly for those years, a calm moving on (like Bilbo’s returning to Bag End and carrying on his life). The memories attached to Middle Earth, though, its world, people, and stories, will never fade but, I believe, will only shine brighter as the days and years go by. I cannot thank enough those who fostered this love in me, encouraged it, and rejoiced in the fruit it produced. Thank you, all of you, for all that you have done and given to me – from the writer himself, to the family that carries on his legacy, to the director determined to bring these stories to life, the writers who tenderly took Tolkien’s work in hand, and the actors who gave the characters breath and soul. To these last, I will never look at any of you ever again but that I will also see the characters who have become so beloved to me, see the emotion shimmering in your eyes and trembling on your lips, and feel the strength of your hearts. Thank you!

It was the closing of the Red Book, the ending of an era, and the tearful goodbye of a grateful heart that feels like a Hobbit, writes like an Elf, is fallible like Man, hopeful as a Wizard, and staunch as a Dwarf. You have my love and my eternal thanks. Hannon le. Amin mela le.

NaBloPoMo 2014 Day 16: A World in Twilight


Author’s Note: This is one of my in-between stories based on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I have always enjoyed the companionship between Galadriel and Gandalf, the unspoken understanding between the two of them that has always seemed so comforting.

This is also in honor of fall’s quick fading away into the cold of winter. I am very much not ready for winter yet.

= = =

Fall was quiet, leaves of gold and amber making their silent courses to the carpet the ground. This was when he enjoyed the world, at its twilight. Gandalf’s own was approaching, this he knew. His task had been fulfilled.

Four years to the day when he had delivered the hobbits to Imladris from Minas Tirith. Four years since the little ones had fought for home and hearth. Four years since he had passed through his own fiery gauntlet. It might not seem like a long time to some, especially to he who had seen the ages of this world pass by like wisps of cloud. But it was enough.

Twilight was falling for him. And also for others.

Frodo was beginning to fade; he could feel it. It was like a breath of cold seeping into his heart. Gandalf would soon leave on that last ship from Middle-earth, and he knew that Frodo must leave with him.

‘It is time,’ the old Maia murmured as he walked beneath the fading trees of Lothlorien.

~

If spring is Lothlorien’s glory, then autumn is its phoenix burning.

‘Gandalf, you wished to speak with me?’ A bright figure paused at the doorway to the wizard’s chambers. Galadriel, Lady of Light.

‘Lady Galadriel, please.’ Gandalf held a hand out to her.

The Elf Queen smiled and took his arm in full confidence. ‘What is it, old friend? You know my time for granting requests grows short.’

‘As it does for all of us, my Lady. But this boon I must ask.’ Gandalf turned as they reached the moonlit terrace. ‘Frodo is failing. Failing and fading quickly.’

Galadriel’s bright eyes seemed to cloud a bit. ‘His wound is a danger to him; it feeds on the darkness the Ring left in his soul, the broken pieces of himself.’

Gandalf sighed, suddenly feeling very old. ‘He is so young to have borne so much.’

Galadriel placed a hand on his arm again, Nenya, the ring of Adamant, shimmering in the pale moonlight upon her finger. ‘We were all young once, Gandalf.’ A gentle smile graced her lips. ‘But you had a request.’

The Maia regarded her softly. ‘You already know of it, my Lady.’

Galadriel gave a quiet nod. ‘Frodo is not merely a Peleninath. He is also a Ring-Bearer, as is Bilbo. Therefore, I would think it fitting that they should join us; they have earned their rest.’

A smile, one she had known of old, crinkled around Gandalf’s ancient eyes.

‘Our twilight has come, Gandalf. Soon we will journey beyond the White Towers and into the West. The power of our Rings has ended and the time has come for the dominion of Men; may Aragorn and his line rule well.’ The Lady of Light then turned to Gandalf, echoing his words, ‘May they be blest.’

Gandalf, too, smiled. ‘A part of you will always live on in Middle-earth, my Lady. It lives on now in your granddaughter Arwen and will flourish in her children. The light of Lothlorien will never fully be gone as long as one descendent of her line lives.’

Galadriel gave a quiet smile at his words. She did love her granddaughter Arwen Undomiel wholly and completely and part of her heart was saddened at her remaining behind, having given up her Elvish radiance and immortality. But Galadriel also knew the powerful bonds of love.

Galadriel looked out over the gold-and-reddening Wood. ‘Yes, our twilight has come.’

NaBloPoMo 2014 Day 3: Hobbitish Lessons


In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga, Samwise Gamgee is gifted with a small carved box of soil from Lothlorien by Queen Galadriel, the Lady of Light. When he returned home to his beloved Shire, ravaged by Saruman and his minions, Sam opened the box and allowed a fair wind to carry the soil all throughout the Shire. The power inherent in that small patch of dirt returned the Shire to its former glory and more in time, even flourishing the next generation of hobbit children. It was Sam’s gift and blessing for his faithfulness.

On a shelf in my living room sits a round, hand-carved, wooden box. It was a gift from a dear friend and mentor, a token from her time on the mission field in Malawi, Africa. This friend also calls me her “Samwise”. When she gave me this box and called me her ‘dear Sam’, it made an indelible mark on my heart and soul. There has been many a time when I have sat, holding this box, mulling over something that was weighing on me – a decision to be made, a course of action to take, needed words to say. That box is my reminder that love, faithfulness, and willingness to carry our friends and do for others are part and parcel of, not only the Christian life, but should also be so of life, period. We are people built for interdependence, relationship, and those are built up by these tenets.

I want to live up to this blessed title gifted me by this dearest of friends. I want to be Samwise, not only for her, but for those whom I cross in the world – friend, family, acquaintance, and stranger. Uncle Gandalf does indeed say it quite succinctly:

A World in Twilight


Disclaimer: All characters from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings belong exclusively to the Tolkien Estate. These characters are not mine. I simply play with the wonder that is them and the world they inhabit and the stories that could lie between the lines.

Fall was quiet, leaves of gold and amber making their silent courses to the carpet the ground. This was when he enjoyed the world, at its twilight. Gandalf’s own was approaching, this he knew. His task had been fulfilled.

Four years to the day when he had delivered the hobbits to Imladris from Minas Tirith. Four years since the little ones had fought for home and hearth. Four years since he had passed through his own fiery gauntlet. It might not seem like a long time to some, especially to he who had seen the ages of this world pass by like wisps of cloud. But it was enough.

Twilight was falling for him. And also for others.

Frodo was beginning to fade; he could feel it. It was like a breath of cold seeping into his heart. Gandalf would soon leave on that last ship from Middle-earth, and he knew that Frodo must leave with him.

‘It is time,’ the old Maia murmured as he walked beneath the fading trees of Lothlorien.

~

If spring is Lothlorien’s glory, then autumn is its phoenix burning.

‘Gandalf, you wished to speak with me?’ A bright figure paused at the doorway to the wizard’s chambers. Galadriel, Lady of Light.

‘Lady Galadriel, please.’ Gandalf held a hand out to her.

The Elf Queen smiled and took his arm in full confidence. ‘What is it, old friend? You know my time for granting requests grows short.’

‘As it does for all of us, my Lady. But this boon I must ask.’ Gandalf turned as they reached the moonlit terrace. ‘Frodo is failing. Failing and fading quickly.’

Galadriel’s bright eyes seemed to cloud a bit. ‘His wound is a danger to him; it feeds on the darkness the Ring left in his soul, the broken pieces of himself.’

Gandalf sighed, suddenly feeling very old. ‘He is so young to have borne so much.’

Galadriel placed a hand on his arm again, Nenya, the ring of Adamant, shimmering in the pale moonlight upon her finger. ‘We were all young once, Gandalf.’ A gentle smile graced her lips. ‘But you had a request.’

The Maia regarded her softly. ‘You already know of it, my Lady.’

Galadriel gave a quiet nod. ‘Frodo is not merely a Peleninath. He is also a Ring-Bearer, as is Bilbo. Therefore, I would think it fitting that they should join us; they have earned their rest.’

A smile, one she had known of old, crinkled around Gandalf’s ancient eyes.

‘Our twilight has come, Gandalf. Soon we will journey beyond the White Towers and into the West. The power of our Rings has ended and the time has come for the dominion of Men; may Aragorn and his line rule well.’ The Lady of Light then turned to Gandalf, echoing his words, ‘May they be blest.’

Gandalf, too, smiled. ‘A part of you will always live on in Middle-earth, my Lady. It lives on now in your granddaughter Arwen and will flourish in her children. The light of Lothlorien will never fully be gone as long as one descendent of her line lives.’

Galadriel gave a quiet smile at his words. She did love her granddaughter Arwen Undomiel wholly and completely and part of her heart was saddened at her remaining behind, having given up her Elvish radiance and immortality. But Galadriel also knew the powerful bonds of love.

Galadriel looked out over the gold-and-reddening Wood. ‘Yes, our twilight has come.’