Walking With Tolkien: A Journey From Desolation to Life, Part 3 of 3


Though Frodo is crushed by his journey, we are given insight into how this pain and suffering can be translated into opportunity for gift and life. No other situation highlights this effect more than Frodo’s interactions with the miserable and pitiable Gollum.


Isn’t Gollum a bit like the pain and discomfort in all our lives?


Without Gollum the Hobbits could have actually had some good sleep, but instead they needed to be on their guard. Without Gollum they could have relaxed somewhat and enjoyed each other’s company, but instead the vile ex-Hobbit acted as a wedge, creating conflict between our two protagonists.


Gollum invokes pity and ire, but we must admit, without Gollum’s selfish desires, there would have been no guidance to Mordor, and in the end, all would have been lost.


Gollum contributes almost no good actions of his own intention to the entire story, but he cannot be removed from the tale. The undeniable reality that pain must be a part of our earthly lives rings true. Frodo was spared from his final caving into the power of the ring by Gollum removing the ring along with his finger. Ironically, the power of the ring over Gollum, is what spared Frodo from the pain and inevitable torment of accepting the ring as his master. Frodo would have become as dark and faceless as Gollum. It is my own pain that steers me from my pride. My agony showed me what some people endure throughout their entire lives. Now, when I meet someone who’s grumpy and vile I wonder, trying to understand, β€œWhat dark days have they suffered in their life?”


When Gollum became the Hobbit’s guide to Mordor, is when the story really began to strike home. The endless journey through the stinky, damp, and uninviting swamps, for example, was easy for me to imagine. I too looked down into the water and saw death looking up and was almost consumed if not for a select few who stood by and pulled me up. I smelt the stench and hated it; I wanted to be free.


Sam and Frodo continued forward, and with every mile their weariness grew. The ring crushed Frodo with its physical weight as well as its pressure upon his very will. Always, Frodo fought the temptation to give in, end his struggle, and accept the ring. Failure hung over me with the same effect. Joe, like Sam, was nearby to remind me of the goodness and light I was pursuing in such an endless endeavour. I experienced a deeply spiritual process in which, despite not hearing the words of someone who cared and continuing on a self-destructive path, somehow, I would register the words in a subconscious place and would be strengthened when I least expected it, but needed it the most. Joe’s words often served this function, like Sam’s for Frodo’s sake.


Despite many incredible challenges, the two Hobbits kept moving onward.


They survived Shelob’s onslaught and escaped Gollum’s betrayal. They even pushed forward with the realisation, always in their minds, that there wasn’t enough food for the return trip. Their final stretch through Mordor is the most intense and bleakly described setting in the book. The region is nauseating and filled with pockets of pain and orcs. It was here that I recognized a complete resemblance to my own struggles. It seems like you never get any closer, but you get more and more tired. Yet, within this desolation, the love of Sam grows and carries Frodo further and further. Eventually, Sam literally carries Frodo towards the cave of Mount Doom. This is sainthood. To achieve true love it is not enough to simply care, but we must carry the one we love.


Love this strong is real.


The Lord of the Rings didn’t appeal to me because it is fanciful, but because it is powerfully descriptive of reality. The setting, races, and lore are fascinating and outlandish, but every person in that story could be a breathing living person. Watching Sam struggle with real life decisions draws to mind the battle of discernment in a loving relationship. It might be argued that Sam’s love would never have become so strong if not for the harrowing nature of such a journey. Heartbreakingly, their bond is cemented only to have Frodo ravaged and affected permanently from his travels and inevitably sent away.


It was hard for me to forgive Tolkien, but they had to be separated.


Their separation was the ultimate manifestation of their love for one another. They let go, when their emotions said everything contrary, for the sake of the other. Inevitably, I had toseparatemyself from the ones who did so much to help me during my duress. It was less final however, because I still have contact with the people who were so helpful and dear during my dark hour. Joe remains a steadfast friend and support in my pursuit of a University Degree and the fulfillment of my dreams.


So to finish my own story, or at least bring it up to the present: Eventually after increasing my boundaries enough to look after my own needs I moved out into a friends house. After a few months of learning to feed and take of myself I felt confident enough to start an easy job. As providence would have it, an old friend who was my boss at a restaurant I once worked in, was now working as the general manager of a nearby branch. To my delight, he took me on as an employee. Like everything else in my recovery, I started small. I worked for three hours, two or three times a week. From there, I worked my way up, and after one year I was working full time as a waiter.


In conclusion, Tolkien played an integral role in my realisation that my suffering was united into a greater cause and purpose. Tolkien showed me that no matter how dark my life became, I was struggling for a reason and it was worth the toil. Like Tolkien, I’m using story to convey God’s love and that in Him is the real great pilgrimage. The worst of my recovery is over, but I still have many obstacles to overcome. I do not find myself distraught by my inabilities, but in awe that God walked so closely with me during every step.


As the great eagles came in to save the day, exactly like in Tolkien’s story, so I saw the workings of the Holy Spirit in my journey to freedom. I saw the fires of mount doom with my own eyes and tasted the ash of death in my mouth and I looked back upon the most impossible journey and felt Him lift me up and away from the desolation. Like with Frodo, my journey left permanent scars, remnants of the awesome struggle that will never go away. This is a unintended consequence of many great adventures. If I had stayed indoors and shirked the immense risk I took upon myself, for fear of such consequences, I would have brought upon myself an even greater tragedy: I would have denied myself the very occasion to make real the extraordinary, majestic, and beautiful qualities waiting to be born within every person’s life.



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