Ok, confession time. I am a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien. That isn’t to say that I dress like Gandalf on the weekends, but I have read the books and I own all three of the films (extended director’s edition…duh). This is partly because I love good literature and good movies. Both forms of Tolkien’s trilogy have their own flare, but in the end these are some wonderfully written books and great stories.
One of the reasons I love this story is that there are so many different cultures that Tolkien created and wrote about. This reflects one of the wonderful things about God, that he loves variety of all types, especially in people. Now as funny as it may be, I love the portrayal of the life of the hobbits in the beginning of the first installment of the story. When I watch the film I always wish that I could live in the shire. How cool would it be to live in that serene natural setting where life is simple and everything is good? The hobbits are good-natured, hearty, and, as we see in the story, courageous people. Maybe I just wish I could throw big parties outside under paper lanterns and eat off of clay dishes…or maybe I wish I could just be a writer and a gardener living in the woods. Ok, that may be a little much…
While this way of life is obviously fictional and a bit utopian, It gets me thinking about why I am drawn to it like I am. Perhaps there is something to the line in the prologue “all hobbits share a love for things that grow.” Perhaps this strikes a chord in us, the people whom God created and set in a garden of all places. Perhaps it is a natural environment like the shire where we are meant to thrive, a place where we could more readily understand the words of a Teacher who says “I am the vine, you are the branches.”
Now I’m no tree-hugger. I appreciate the advances of technology and the conveniences that it brings (I’m writing this on a computer after all). But maybe there are lessons to be learned from stories like this one. Maybe they can tell us something about ourselves.
If you find yourself drawn to something you see or read about in a story, a sense of adventure, of simplicity, or of courage, don’t be too quick to dismiss it. The heart can tell us things that we would otherwise be ignorant of. As C.S. Lewis (a contemporary and friend of Tolkien) wrote concerning heaven: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” I think we were made for simplicity, made for courage, and made, ultimately, for the worship of God. If we listen, we will hear our hearts testify that this is true. Give it a try.