Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Look to the East

In the second book of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, wars and rumors of wars build around the kingdom of Rohan. In the Battle of the Hornburg, all seems lost.  Evil has built to seemingly overwhelming proportions. Friends seem harder and harder to find. They are surrounded by death.

King Theoden's answer is to ride out against the evil.  He doesn't try to solve every problem. He knows that he cannot.  But he can ride out in faith and do his part.

"...King Theoden rode from Helm's Gate and clove his path to the great Dike. There the company halted. Light grew bright about them. Shafts of the sun flared above the eastern hills and glimmered on their spears. But they sat silent on their horses, and they gazed down upon the Deeping-coomb.

.... There suddenly upon a ridge appeared a rider, clad in white, shining in the rising sun. Over the low hills the horns were sounding. Behind him, hastening down the long slopes, were a thousand men on foot; their swords were in their hands. Amid them strode a man tall and strong. His shield was red. As he came to the valley's brink, he set to his lips a great black horn and blew a ringing blast."

The final answer came at dawn, in the east. When the world looked darkest, a light shone from the east, promising final victory over evil. With the Christmas season just past, we must strive to remember year-round that out of the darkness of the world shone a light from the east. The light shines for us from the east, from Bethlehem, and we receive the promise anew.

Let's strive to remember that, even with Christmas behind us -- because it never is truly behind us. "...(F)ear and great wonder had come upon them with the rising of the day." It comes on us as well, not with a flash of light and sound of trumpets - at least not yet - but it comes.  He comes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In the Right Place for the Wrong Reasons

A bit of a flashback for me, this is something I wrote ten years ago for an earlier blog, but I haven't yet shared it here.

In the Right Place for the Wrong Reasons

In an interview about The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, Miranda Otto (Eowyn) said that we live in "cynical times", but that this is not a cynical movie. It shows goodness, truth, fellowship, and trust prevailing over darkness and betrayal. Those that fight against the darkness are often ordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations; they are not the fastest or strongest or bravest, yet they accept the call when it comes.

I believe we can be the white light in that cynical world, refusing to believe that truth and goodness cannot triumph. To paraphrase the king at the final battle, there may come a time when we will fail, where we will toss aside our bonds of fellowship, but it is not today!   Yet we stumble and fall. We make mistakes.

Eowyn, the White Lady of Rohan, is expected to do her duty. She is expected to farewell the men, then to return home and lead her people. It is a leadership role, yes, but a home-bound role as well. Eowyn is expected to remain behind, while those she loves fight for her.

Eowyn cannot. She wants to fight. Even though she is afraid, come the battle, she still wants to fight for her friends.

How many times do we know what we must do, but something calls us elsewhere? How many times, for good or bad, do we feel like we're abandoning our duty. Perhaps it's to do something we feel is greater. Often, it's simply out of apathy or fear. We turn away from what we should do and go elsewhere.

God is not as shallow as we. He sees possibility even where we see only weakness.

Eowyn turns away from her assigned duty; she goes to battle against her father's wishes. She risks not only her life, but Merry's, and those of the people she would leave behind should both their leaders die in battle.

Yet, God uses even this seeming mistake. At the pinnacle of the battle waits the Witch King, the Lord of the Nazgul and a creature that "no living man can kill". And there they are placed, through deceit, through abnegation of her duties, through spills and mistakes: Eowyn and Merry, a woman and a hobbit. There they are, among thousands of living men, mere yards from the Witch King, are the two people capable of destroying him.

Even through our pride, our desires, and our apparent mistakes, God can bring good. Had Eowyn not ridden out to that battle, had she not brought Merry with her, had they both not been there at that moment, Evil would have triumphed.