It’s Lent, the forty days before Easter when many people fast, give alms, and reflect on who they are in the sight of God and others. Often during Lent, I will watch the extended editions of the three Lord of the Rings films, for they give me another opportunity to visit Middle-earth and to explore the lives and motivations of the main characters. Each time I watch the films, I see, as Boromir tells Aragorn, that “there is weakness, there is frailty, but there is courage also and honor to be found in men,” and most definitely in hobbits.
So join me as we take a Lenten journey of reflection and step inside some of these characters. Perhaps we’ll recognize a bit of ourselves, or someone we want to be.
I am Frodo, a young hobbit from the Shire. I usually fill my days reading under a shady tree or enjoying a mug with the others down at The Green Dragon. Now I’m standing on the bank of the Great River with a decision to make. I am alone, but it’s just as well, for the others can’t help me carry this ring. Lady Galadriel told me that as a Ringbearer, I must bear this evil burden myself. She also told me that “even the smallest can change the course of the future.” That’s it then, I know now what I must do – cross the river and make my way to Mordor.
Father, when I am faced with heavy responsibilities, give me the strength and conviction of Frodo to complete the difficult tasks before me.
I am Samwise, a hobbit more comfortable trimming Mr. Bilbo’s hedges than running through the woods in a strange land. Where has Frodo gone? I know he is troubled, I know he carries a heavy burden. I mean to find him and help him along his journey. I promised Gandalf that I would never leave him, no matter what. I’m going down to the riverbank and even if it means getting into the water, I am going to help my friend.
Father, help me be as good a friend to others as Sam is to Frodo, no matter how difficult the journey.
I am Boromir, son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor. My father sent me to Rivendell to see if the rumors are true. Has the One Ring truly been found? If so, it would be a powerful weapon in our battle against the enemy. Long have we fought in the fields of Ithilien and in the ruins of Osgiliath to keep his forces at bay. We are a proud people, a strong people, and no wizard or elf lord will tell us what we can or can’t do.
Father, bless my work and keep my intentions true without corruption, even if temptations arise.
I am Theoden, King of Rohan. With the help of Gandalf, I am no longer under Saruman’s spells, yet doubts remain. What kind of leader am I? I want the best for my people, but am I too quick to retreat and hide behind the walls of Helm’s Deep? My father and his father were great warriors, great leaders, and are so honored in the burial mounds where the white simbelmynë grows. Their blood runs through my veins, though I do nothing to earn their honor or the respect of our people. When I fall, will I be hailed as one of the Victorious Dead?
Father, help me to appreciate the talents you have given me and grant me the wisdom to use these talents to glorify your name, not mine.
I am Eowyn, the handmaiden of Rohan. I see a growing darkness in my dreams that I am utterly powerless to avoid, a cage I am unable to leave. I wish to stand by my king’s side and fight, but I am asked instead to care for the other women and children. I know there is strength in me that has not yet been tested, courage that has not yet been kindled. I await my chance to prove my worth, for there are some tasks that men just can’t do.
Father, when the time comes to use the talents you gave me, grant me the strength and courage to use them to their fullest.
I am Elrond, Lord of Rivendell. Even though I wear Vilya, the mightiest of the three Elven rings, its power will soon diminish, whether by Sauron’s darkness or Frodo’s success. I will soon pass to the undying lands on a great ship, a journey I wish my daughter Arwen would take also. I want only the best life for her, one without sadness and death. Yet, it is her life, not mine. I will do what I can to help her and Aragorn: I will forge the shards of Narsil into a new blade that only a king can wield.
Father, forever am I connected to my children, but they have their own lives to live. Give me the wisdom to guide and encourage them to live successfully on their own.
I am Aragorn, newly crowned as Elessar, King of the reunited kingdom of Arnor and Gondor. Lord Elrond named me Estel, which means “hope for all men,” yet for many years I worked in the shadows, never acknowledging my birthright. Now as I stand in front of my friends and my people, I know that I can be their leader. With a deep breath, I accept my rule and proclaim “This day does not belong to one man, but to all. Let us together rebuild this world that we may share in the days of peace.”
Thank you, Father, for the gifts you have given me and the opportunities to do your will. Grant me a long and full life, until it is my turn to board a ship at the Grey Havens and journey across the waters to the “white shores and a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
Christopher Fenoglio writes and walk among the trees near his home in Nashville, Tennessee. He remains vigilant, always keeping an eye out for the entwives.