I have a few minutes, since Gary is napping. So I want to type out a few things that struck me while reading this book. I'm just a few pages from the end. Not trying to draw theological conclusions - this is not the Bible. Just things that struck me beyond the story.
It's going to be hard for me to figure out why I marked these pages, I'm afraid.
I marked a passage where Gandalf was relating to Frodo about Gollum (Smeagol) and how he was tracking him... 'But at the western edge of Mirkwood the trail turned away. It wandered off southwards and passed out of the Wood-elves' ken, and was lost. And then I made a great mistake. Yes, Frodo, and not the first; though I fear it may prove the worst. I let the matter be. I let him go; for I had much else to think of at that time, and I still trusted the lore of Saruman.'
I can so relate to this. Being on the verge of something great, conquering something, or completing something - and then getting lost, distracted and just letting the matter drop. I'm so easily distracted. And then when I think of it again, I tell myself it wasn't that big of a deal, or I can get back to it later.... An example of this is years ago I had a real burning desire to put together a prayer calendar or journal of sorts. I never found anything to my satisfaction on the market. I got it started, but the enormity of it, and the difficulty of it overwhelmed me. I do regret not following through. I may get back to it some day, but there are so many things pulling at me. I don't desire to do it to make money off of it - I need it to organize my prayer life. But right now I'm relying on praying as the Spirit leads me. Which is good, but unfortunately, I fill my life with distractions that it's so easy to squelch that tug.
a little dissertation on Pity, Mercy and judgement. A continuation of the discussion of Gollum. How Bilbo dealt with him...
'O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!
Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.
I am sorry, said Frodo. But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.
You have not seen him, Gandalf broke in.
No, and I don't want to, said Frodo. I can't understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.
Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many -- yours not least. In any case we did not kill him: he is very old and very wretched. The Wood-elves have him in prison, but they treat him with such kindness as they can find in their wise hearts."
This really speaks to me because I have a tendancy to be so judgemental. I need to dish out mercy instead of calling for prosecution! Off with their heads! I'm not the giver of life, therefore I shouldn't be the taker of it. I do not have the whole picture in mind. And if there is a sickness, there is always the Hope for cure. I won't touch the "some that die deserve life". Much too tender a subject for something as pithy as a journal.
Next: this is a much lighter subject. The hobbits are at the Inn in Bree, the Prancing Pony. Mr. Butterbur serves them a meal thusly described...
There was hot soup, cold meats, a blackberry tart, new loaves, slabs of butter, and half a ripe cheese: good plain food, as good as the Shire could show, and homelike enough to dispel the last of Sam's misgivings (already much relieved by the excellence of the beer).
So now you have discovered why I have made the attempt at the no-knead bread. I'm wanting to re-create a hobbit feast! Isn't the description compelling? After I perfect the bread, I will work on the tart and then host a feast! We are a very hobbit-like family. However, I did discover that Gary is a bit elvish in his lawyerly ways.... he does not answer a question directly, and elves refuse to give advice one way or another. I just find that equally confounding.
Next: the group of 9 are well into their travels and they are having a conversation with the elves of Lorien. We pick up in the middle of a conversation...
I cannot, said Merry. I have never seen them. I have never been out of my own land before. And if I had known what the world outside was like, I don't think I should have had the heart to leave it.
Not even to see fair Lothlorien? said Haldir. The world is full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.
Again, I so relate to this. If we knew what was out there, we'd never leave our houses. But despite all the evil, think of the beauty we would miss. This is a terrific passage for missionaries, I'd think. Plus, like missionaries, the mission is a dangerous one, but the outcome is for the good.
Last: this is a bit more lighthearted. A reference to old wives tales...
Then I need say no more, said Celeborn. But do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know.
I just liked that one. Now, to finish reading this book. Almost there!