Over the last week I have watched the Lord of the Rings film triology for the first time since seeing them at the cinema.
What struck me again was the tiny glimmer of hope which Frodo and his faithful friend Sam carry through the most hopeless of situations. They keep going through relentless violence, temptations, threats and arguments which utterly drain and exhaust them.
As Frodo says to Gandalf about the challenges Middle Earth has to face:
‘I wish it need not have happened in my time’
‘So do I and 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 us.’
Frodo and Sam are heroes worth reflecting on. They do not succeed because of their strength, cunning or fighting abilities. They succeed because of their purity of heart, their courage and the way they take responsibility for the task they have been given. In short, they are faithful. These are qualities that everyone can strive for.
Darkness in our world
There is so much darkness in our world. So much pain, poverty, violence and strife. So many conflicting opinions and arguments which can distract and disillusion us. I cannot remember a time when people are more cynical and disillusioned with the political and social situation facing our country.
How do we respond? Rather than just curse the times we live in, what is the role we can play to bring change? How can you stand up for truth? What wrong can we help make right? How can we bring healing or reconciliation? To whom can you reach out to bring hope and comfort?
‘Worth fighting for’
As Sam puts it as he encourages Frodo in their task:
“It’s like the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened?
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer. I know now folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something. That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
Blessed with discomfort
I heard this Franciscan blessing this morning in church and I remembered that it was also read out at my leaving do from West London Mission. I would encourage everyone to read this slowly and pray or reflect on what it means to you:
May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.