A Gift from Middle-earth


by Deacon Jackie Wiliams; Trinity Episcopal Church; Hamilton, Ohio

Greetings to the Beloved Community,
Recently I heard, in a circle, tearful pain about racism. Since then, a major spike in Covid has visited us, and the transition of power in our country isn’t going well.
I resurrected an article from a few months ago. Some folks told me it was helpful. It may apply for some at this time also.
Christ’s light to you,
Jackie Williams

A sermon I heard from the National Cathedral recounted the following conversation. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo, a young Hobbit who has inherited a powerful, hypnotic ring is talking to Gandalf, a wizard. Hobbits are peaceful, fun-loving, dwarf-like people in Middle-earth. Gandalf is a protector of the Hobbits and the ring. Their conversation is a gift. Unwrap the gift carefully. It’s 72 years old.

“I wish the ring had never come to me,” said Frodo.

Gandalf answered, “So do all who live in these times, but that is not given to us. There are other forces at work, Frodo, beside the will of evil. We are at our best when we bring our skills to these forces of good during times of trial.  How will we live now? That is the major thing we must decide.”

Seventy-two years ago, in 1948, after WWII, Tolkien may have been crafting advice for us any time we face ‘times of trial’.

When Covid-19 abruptly disrupted our lives in March, we all asked, “What do we do? How do we live?” The firestorm of rightful anger at the death of George Floyd brought the same questions. The natural disasters of wildfires and floods gave us a third time of trial. This election season is a fourth. With each one we must answer the same two questions, “What do we do? How do we live?”

If we take Gandalf’s advice, we will give our skills to the forces of good. That will tell us how we will live. We will walk in the shoes of Moses and Job and the saints. They held fast to the good through times more desperate than ours. I like the direction, “Give your skills to the forces of good.” Christians especially know what those forces are, and we know what our skills are. We over think it. A gentle invitation to break that cycle of uncertainty could be:  just do the next thing that love calls you to do.