Thursday, November 27, 2008

A great Shadow has departed

I had planned on reposting the psalm I posted last year on Thanksgiving. It’s a good one; feel free to read it anyway.

Instead, a passage from The Return of the King that my pastor read on Sunday grabbed me this week, and I want to get it written here at the very end of the Church calendar-year, between Christ the King Sunday last week when we celebrated Christ’s ultimate victory in the epic of history and the first Sunday of Advent this next Sunday when we begin waiting for his coming.

Frodo and Samwise have destroyed the ring, and with it their lives. They are beside the erupting Crack of Doom, knowing they are about to die.
“I am glad that you are here with me,” said Frodo. “Here at the end of all things, Sam.”

“Yes, I am with you, Master,” said Sam, laying Frodo’s wounded hand gently to his breast. “And you’re with me. And the journey’s finished. But after coming all that way I don’t want to give up yet. It’s not like me, somehow, if you understand.”

“Maybe not, Sam,” said Frodo; “but it’s like things are in the world. Hopes fail. An end comes. We have only a little time to wait now. We are lost in ruin and downfall, and there is no escape.”

“Well, Master, we could at least go further from this dangerous place here, from this Crack of Doom, if that’s its name. Now couldn’t we? Come, Mr. Frodo, let’s go down the path at any rate!”
Frodo and Sam do go on a bit, without hope, and finally collapse. Sam, his beautiful, simple soul remaining consistent to the end, wishes to hear their own tale told, and loses consciousness beside the erupting mountain as he daydreams about the story.

Then he is in Rivendell, having been saved from the mountain by the eagles, and he slowly awakes as if from a dream and sees his 9-fingered master beside him.
Full memory flooded back, and Sam cried aloud: “It wasn’t a dream! Then where are we?”

And a voice spoke softly behind him: “In the land of Ithilien, and in the keeping of the King; and he awaits you.” With that Gandalf stood before him, robed in white, his beard now gleaming like pure snow in the twinkling of the leafy sunlight. “Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?” he said.

But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”

“A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listed the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count...
Is everything sad going to come untrue? So let it be... let it be.