The Fate of Middle Earthby Jonny on 19/12/2012
Tis the season to adventure with dwarfs to the Lonely Mountain!
The Christmas season was a little bit merrier for me this year with Bilbo on hand, but before you start thinking this is a movie review, here’s a spoiler alert: this is not a post about The Hobbit.
This is a post about elves.
It was fun to see Elrond in The Hobbit, out on a hunting party, slicing up orcs… he returned to Rivendell in such a good mood! Seems cleaving goblin heads puts a song in the old elf-king’s heart.
I think the reason I liked seeing Elrond getting his battle on is because I remember seeing him portrayed in the Lord of the Rings films. He’s changed. He sits solemn behind the pillars of Imladris, conservative councilor to the peoples of Middle Earth. Elrond is an immortal high elf, thousands of years old… why the sudden change in the (relatively) short sixty years between The Hobbit and the war of the ring?
I think it’s because, by the time of the Fellowship, he knows his time is drawing near. The elves hear the call from across the sea. Through the centuries, they have boarded ship after ship at the grey havens, sailing home to that beautiful heaven they call Valinor. And now so few of them are left. The time of the elves is ending. The age of man begins.
But in the middle of this exodus, the ring comes to life. The dark days begin anew.
Elrond is almost ready. He’s heading home to Valinor. It would be so easy to set his eyes on this new home and leave behind Middle Earth with all its ring-induced mess.
We’re all like the elves, aren’t we?
We know this world isn’t permanent. One day we’ll leave, and on that day we’ll discover what real life is. That day we can leave all this mess and heartache behind.
I know I’m not alone in aching to leave behind this broken world. I know this because I hear it from my friends, through their groans and grinding teeth.
When there’s a shooting in Colorado or Conneticut, we wail that the world is broken, and grow impatient for heaven.
Even worse is election day. If our guy didn’t win, we are done with this country. We talk about moving to Europe or Asia or (shudder) Canada… as though the rest of the world isn’t broken too.
And then there’s the personal pain. It’s easy to want to give up on a relationship because it gets hard, to give up on a job because it’s monotonous. It’s easy to want to give up on life itself and retreat into the escapism of television, video games, and… yes, even The Hobbit. (That one would be me.)
But a soldier that sees his army failing and lays down his arms isn’t much of a soldier.
Where am I going with this? Well, let’s get back to the elves. There’s this scene in The Two Towers, a scene between Elrond and his fellow elf Galadriel.
The power of the enemy is growing. Sauron will use his puppet Saruman to destroy the people of Rohan. Isengard has been unleashed.
The strength of the ringbearer is failing. In his heart, Frodo begins to understand. The quest will claim his life. You know this. You have foreseen it. It is the risk we all took.
In the gathering dark, the will of the ring grows strong. It works hard now to find its way back into the hands of men. Men, who are so easily seduced by its power. The young captain of Gondor has but to extend his hand to take the ring for his own and the world will fall. He is close now, so close to achieving his goal…
The time of the elves is over. Do we leave Middle Earth to this fate? Do we let them stand alone?
I get that in difficult times we need to vent discouragement, and I understand that most of these kind of dispair-filled comments are flippant – we haven’t completely given up on life, and we’re not really going to move to another country to get away from our government.
However… I don’t think I can write off my country or my planet or my life, not even briefly. This reality will end one day when we enter eternity, but in the meantime it’s still where we live, and it is pulsing with a cycle of corruption and redemption. I’m on the side of redemption.
One day I’ll die. My ship shall leave the grey havens and sail to Valinor. But until then, I will not give up on redeeming this earthly stuff. It’s temporary, yes, but it’s so beautiful when redeemed.
I will journey home someday.
But I will not abandon Middle Earth to its fate.