23 January 2006

Frodo and Samwise

I got back yesterday afternoon from my weekend retreat. I spent it with a bunch of women. First, I have to do something important. I have to say this, out loud, in public: My mother was right. I told my mother last Thursday that I was going on a sewing retreat for the weekend and she said, via e-mail, "I admire you throwing yourself in with a bunch of women for a whole weekend. I couldn't do it. Maybe I couldn't do it with any unknown group. I find myself getting impatient with many people's denseness more and more lately."

I should have listened to my mother. But I don't want to focus on the issues that she was right about. It is sufficient to say that she was right. I did have an enjoyable time and I got a lot of sewing done and made a lot of progress on a couple of quilts that have been burning a hole in my brain.

One of the things I've learned about myself over the years, is that in some settings I'm a multi-tasker. For instance, if you ever come to my house and see me cleaning my kitchen with great vengence, I'm probably angry about something and need to move in order to think and process. So I clean, and think, and talk (perhaps yell ... perhaps). Depending on the issue I may even move on to another room.

Another thing that really facilitates thinking for me is sewing. It frees my mind to have repetitive tasks. Quilting is an art form that involves many repetitive tasks. I was paper piecing yesterday. This is an activity which is particularly repetitive (and I had 50 blocks to make), so my mind wandered quite a bit. I found my mind wandering, as it sometimes does, through the paths and bogs and heaths of Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings has fascinated me and captured my imagination since I first discovered it as a teenager. I've read it in whole or in part countless times ... and when the movies came out 4 years ago ... well ... I was captivated all over again. For the first time ever before or since, movie makers got a book right. Well almost ... they forgot Tom Bombadil and some other large-ish parts ... but did you see Minas Tirith, Rivendell, the Mines of Moria? Overall (in the movie), Peter Jackson achieved what no one has ever done; taken a complex book and really put it up on the big screen.

In any case, I got to thinking about Frodo and Samwise. Frodo was given an almost unbearable burden. One that took him on a journey fraught with danger. This journey caused him pain and he suffered wounds that would never quite heal. Samwise Gamgee was his faithful friend who stuck by his side at every turn, the friend who had his back, even when Frodo didn't want anyone to have his back. The journey began with just the two of them and they picked up the Fellowship as they travelled for a while. But eventually it became clear that the only course for Frodo would be to travel to Mt. Doom with his painful, heavy burden, alone with only Samwise for company on the slow, tortorous journey. The Fellowship with Gimli's ax, Legolas' bow, and Aragorn's sword was left behind to wonder and wander for a bit. Actually, for the remainder of the story.

I spent a good deal of time thinking about the Fellowship ... Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Meriadoc, Peregrin. Without the Fellowship to distract the Forces of Darkness from Frodo, he would not have been able to complete his task. Even tho, the Fellowship had been broken up and redistributed throughout Middle Earth, everyone had different "jobs" to do. Those were necessary in order for Frodo and Samwise to get to and then up Mt. Doom. I'd always grieved the break-up of the Fellowship, but now I saw it was a necessary evil.

So as my hands did their work; the stitching and cutting and pressing, I realized that there are some journeys on which we must travel somewhat alone. I've been on one or two; as have we all. And somewhat painfully, I'm standing watch while other friends travel a similar journey now. But when we receive an all but unbearable burden and find that our journey's path takes us up the steeps of an all but impassable mountain, it's good to know that we have a fellowship with their metaphorical axes, and bows and swords, fighting to keep the forces of darkness distracted long enough so that our wounds, while painful, won't cut quite as deeply. To know that we have friends who are searching the horizon for signs of our presence, who will light the watch fires when a battle must be fought, who will send in the eagles to pick us up when we can go no further. I realized that if it weren't for these small "f" fellowships, many journeys would end in disaster. That we manage our journeys up and down our large and small mounts of doom, precisely because of these small "f" fellowships of which we are all part. We who are in the fellowships must do our parts, not really knowing what those roles are or why, or how our role will effect the outcome. And of course, the truly nice thing about all of this metaphor is that we do not have to pass out of direct contact as Frodo and Samwise did when they were engulfed in their struggle to achieve the summit of Mt. Doom.


Blogger Israel said...

you're a great writer and thinker Sonja. I am having chills just remembering the plot and seeing the parallels. Thank you for the reminder that we all matter on this journey. Each of us have a role in our friend's journey. And some of us won't know this side of Middle Earth what it was.

1/23/2006 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Cool. Very cool.

1/23/2006 06:10:00 PM  

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