Sunday, April 17, 2011

The road goes ever on and on

Lent is a journey toward Easter and, thus, a journey toward God through the Resurrection. I was struck by the Lenten character of this bit of "old Bilbo's rhyming" from The Fellowship of the Ring:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
"The Road goes ever on and on... And I must follow, if I can..." The road to Calvary continues, even though Christ's redeeming sacrifice is complete and eternal. We are called to join Him, to take up our cross and follow. In one way, our path is unique because we must die to our own sinfulness, to our personal failings; in another, our path is well-trodden and clear, because it was trodden by Him. Christ's own feet first beat the path to the conquest of sin through death, and of death through resurrection. We, then, are called to be "pursuing it with weary feet, until it joins some larger way..." And we know who is the Way.

"And whither then? I cannot say." What Hamlet asked with trepidation, we ask with joy: "What dreams may come?" St. Paul reminds us us that "eye has not seen, and ear has not heard ... what God has prepared for those who love him". (1 Cor 2:9) Like Bilbo, we cannot say what waits for us once our individual paths take us to the Wedding Feast, joined with all the saints and angels in Heaven, but we look to this great mystery with excitement and expectation. We sing old Bilbo's song to an upbeat tune, not a dirge. We continue our journey to journey's end - through Lent to Easter, through life to death and to new life in Christ.

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