Back in July, I wrote a post about some of words I’d been taking in during my first month of grief. We are coming up on the sixth month soon, and here are a few more things I am taking in these days…
The other day, I watched the movie Shrink, and it was beautiful, I recommend it. In it, Kevin Spacey’s character, a shrink, undergoes a tragedy and still tries to help his patients while not really knowing how to help himself. When his friends get upset with him about the unorthodox way he tries to cope, he says:
“They want you to have some kind of normal response to grief. So they don’t have to watch. But it’s mine.”
Those words just really struck me, and I found myself nodding along in tears…
At the end of the movie, Spacey talks to another character in the movie, a young girl who also suffered a loss. The conversation goes like this:
Spacey’s character says, “It’s never going to go away, is it?”
And the young girl replies, “No. But we’re still here. That’s something.”
* * *
I’ve shared many times before how much I love The Lord of the Rings. I found Tolkien’s stories just before my mother died, and I’ve clung to them ever since. I feel such a strong connection to these stories written by a man who also knew loss, who also sought Christ–and found Him– in the midst of darkness. I’ve been rereading the trilogy for the past few months, and last week I finally made it to Mordor.
Sam cannot find Frodo in the dark orc Tower of Cirith Ungol, and Tolkien writes: “The torch, that was already burning low when he arrived, sputtered and went out; and he felt darkness cover him like a tide. And then softly, moved by what thought in his heart he could not tell, Sam began to sing.” This is his song:
In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe ’tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.
Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done
nor bid the Stars farewell.
Then, in the next chapter, “The Land of Shadow,” Tolkien writes, in one of my most favorite passages in all of literature:
“Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of that forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope, for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, even his master’s, ceased to trouble him.”
There is Light and high beauty forever beyond the Shadow’s reach, and because of that, we can walk unhindered in this darkness, knowing the Light will never truly fade.
* * *
I would like to share one more thing. After the deed is done, the ring is destroyed, Frodo and Sam return to the world of men, and Aragorn brings forth a minstrel to sing of all the terror they passed through and all the strength that kept them going to their victory in the end:
“And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.”