A Far Green Country: A Reflection on “The Hobbit”
And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water.
And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was soon lost in the West.
–J.R.R. Tolkien, from The Return of the King
I watched “The Hobbit” this weekend. It was a fun movie, full of tension and action and humor and stunning costumes and scenery. My favorite scene was the one set in Rivendell–the secret valley that is the home of the beautiful, noble elves.
There is something in those scenes–in all the intricately flowing lines of the architecture, in the sunlight reflecting off the waterfalls that line the valley, in the simple, elegant dress of the elven characters–there is something that calls to my heart. It both excites me and makes me sad.
I get excited because I want to go home and recreate those scenes in my own life–to surround myself with beauty like that. But I get sad because I know that I will never have a home like that in this life. And yet, someday I know I will have a home of the most incredible, breathtaking beauty…
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
–Jesus (John 14:1-3)
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Oh, for the day when Messiah returns and all things will be made new!!! Right now I’m living “in the meantime,” literally. This is the in-between season. The longings of my heart are real and oh-so-deep, but not yet fulfilled. It is tempting to dull the longings, to hide from the ache in my heart. But that is such a gray existence–so lifeless and tedious.
So, rather than numbing myself and ignoring that unsatisfied desire for a place of beauty, I will instead try to look for glimpses–for the reminders that there is a place of beauty beyond what I now see and experience, and that someday I will live there and partake of all the things that my heart longs for.
One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever.
One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so.
And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries.
Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in some one’s eyes.”
–from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett