The Gospel According to The Lord of the Rings: Week 13, Homelessness and Longing

The band finally reaches Weathertop, but they don't find Gandalf, only a rune that he might have left three days previously, when they spied lightning from Weathertop.

Standing there, alone and exposed, the Black Riders closing in, no help or rescue in sight, a despair and fear settles over Frodo. Fleming Rutledge draws attention to the moment, as Tolkien writes:
They stood for a while silent on the hill-top, near its southward edge. In that lonely place Frodo for the first time fully realized his homelessness and danger.
Homelessness and being in exile is frequently used to describe the People of God in this world. We are a people out of time and place. "Foxes have dens and birds have nests," said Jesus, "but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." "For this world is not our permanent home," declares Hebrews 13.14, "We are looking forward to a home yet to come." And as Jesus foretells, "In this world you will have trouble."

Tolkien does a masterful job in The Lord of the Rings evoking this longing for our true home. There is a poignant melancholy that haunts the book, observed mostly in the elves. Aragorn and Gandalf are also pensive and sad. We see this longing in the restlessness of Frodo at the end of the story, his desire to go to the Grey Havens and depart Middle Earth. There's also a great sense of loss in the book, how something beautiful and good has been poisoned, damaged, and degraded. We've lost our true home, and now stand with Frodo, scared, alone, and beleaguered on Weathertop.

To be sure, this is a mixed theme in Tolkien. For Sam, the Shire is his home, and he remains to embrace the comforts of family and the the soil he gardens. So, we have to hold onto both Frodo and Sam to get proper guidance about how to balance our love for a particular place, because the Shire is good, with our longing for that "home yet to come."

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