Sunday, December 27, 2015

"For where am I to go? And by what shall I steer?"

When they had sung many songs, and talked of many things they had done together, they toasted Bilbo's birthday, and they drank his health and Frodo's together according to Frodo's custom. Then they went out for a sniff of air, and glimpse the stars and then they went to bed. Frodo's party was over, and Gandalf had not come (The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter III)
On leaving:
The sun went down. Bag End seemed sad and gloomy and dishevelled. Frodo wandered round the familiar rooms, and saw the light of the sunset fade on the walls, and shadows creep out of the corners. It grew slowly dark indoors, He went out and walked down to the gate at the bottom of the path, and then on a short way down the Hill Road. He half expected to see Gandalf come striding up through the dusk.

The sky was clear and the stars were growing bright. 'It's going to be a fine night,' he said aloud. 'That's good for a beginning. I feel like walking. I can't bear any more hanging about. I am going to start, and Gandalf must follow me.' He turned to go back, and then stopped... The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter III)
At the age of 50 I am reading J.R.R. Tolkein's works for the first time. Just prior to turning 50 last month, my 10 year-old son and I finished The Hobbit and soon after began reading The Fellowship of the Ring. This afternoon we read the first half of the third chapter, "Three is Company." It's about Frodo's leaving the Shire on his ill-defined quest. I found it rather moving. What a great piece of writing!

It's weird in life that everything grows more beautiful as you prepare to leave it behind. It's like seeing it for the first time.

Said Gandalf to Frodo, "But you are leaving the Shire - and that should not be known, until you are far away. And you must go, or at least set out, either North, South, West or East - and the direction should certainly not be known." To which Frodo replies:
I have been so taken up with the thoughts of leaving Bag End, and of saying farewell, that I have never even considered the direction . . . For where am I to go? And by what shall I steer? What is to be my quest? Bilbo went to find a treasure, there and back again; but I go to lose one, and not return, as far as I can see
Because it was the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ I did not post a traditio on Friday and so I will post U2's song "Walk On," which I can easily imagine Frodo listening to on his ear buds as he walked away from the Shire that beautiful autumn night:

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