Friday, August 1, 2008

The Samwise Gamgees of the World

"Come, Mr. Frodo!" he cried. "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well."

~J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

That is one of my favorite lines in the books (and the filmmakers left it in the movie, give thanks for small blessings); not just because it is a wonderful scene in and of itself, but because thinking of it has allowed me to put into words things which I mightn't have been able to deal with otherwise.

There have been two occasions in my life that come immediately to mind wherein I have had to be a Sam to somebody. It's a pretty awful feeling, to watch somebody you love suffering, and not being able to share that suffering with them--but it's a comfort to know that it's okay, that some sufferings are made for the bearer alone, but at the same time one can carry the person.

Sam wasn't particularly smart, or strong in battle, or magical; unlike some of the other characters. Yet it was he who was appointed to help Frodo with the ring. Everyone in the Fellowship had their own role to play, and Sam's role was to remain with Frodo to the end. No one thing he did was particularly extraordinary (except perhaps the battle with the Orcs at Cirith Ungol)--plodding along through a wasteland isn't exactly a glamorous task. Sam's glory isn't that he did anything great, but that (to paraphrase Mother Teresa) he did small things with great love.

I'm not much of a warrior; I don't feel much qualified for fighting the forces of evil. Yet I fight them just the same--not through anything glorious, but through smal, dull, ordinary living; and loving. I don't like being weak, or broken, or needy, but I am. Perhaps God chooses little halflings like me because we know we're not strong. We figure out sooner that we're not strong enough to defeat evil on our own. It's a great risk God takes, because we might just give in to despair; but on the other hand we might also realize all the sooner that we need God desperately. The less there is of our silly pride getting in the way, the more God can work through us. And that (as Gandalf might say), is a very comforting thought.

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