I’m currently about 2/3’s of the way through The Lord of the Rings. Reading through this story, or stories (depending on how you look at it) has been a tremendous experience. Tolkien has created a world that is very much in line with the natural order of our own, however its mystical character is overtly seen by every reader. He has created a world rich with joy and friendship, albeit deeply fallen, where evil is a dark reality experienced by anyone who engages its pages. In these ways he taps into something innate about human existence which is not always apparent to the naked eye darkened by sin. Through story he tells us something of our own condition, something of the world’s condition, which cannot be communicated as effectively through plain speech. As such, he taps into a deep knowledge inherent in the human heart, through metaphor, sign, and image. I can’t help but think this is why his books have been so successful all these decades later.
Making my way through the story, as I have, I’ve come across so many areas of significance – you would think I would have stopped to write more often. However, as it turns out, I’m going to pluck a single straw out of the haystack and highlight something I stumbled upon today, late in the second book, The Two Towers.
For context: Frodo, Sam, and Gollum have been on a long journey towards Mordor, and now stand viewing its gates plainly in the distance for the first time. Frodo has been chosen to destroy The Ring in the place where it was first created, Mordor – the only place where its destruction is possible. Previously, and for a very long time, Gollum possessed The Ring, which to this day remains the object of his obsession. He was, however, sworn into obedience by Frodo along the way, and by this, has become a helpful (though suspicious) guide. In a critical moment, Frodo, who is always kind and trusting, and quiet more often than not, sternly rebuked Gollum, setting very clear boundaries and expectations for the remaining journey ahead. Sam, overseeing this, thought to himself the following…
It had always been a notion of his (Sam) that the kindness of dear Mr. Frodo was of such a high degree that it must imply a fair measure of blindness.
This line struck me, because often I think it is the case that people who are tremendously kind, or loving – that they are regularly perceived as blind, or at least naïve. However, as with Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, this does not need to be the truth about such a person. And in fact, if one’s kindness and love is authentically from the Holy Spirit, then it certainly will not be. Contrary to popular belief in our society, it is not rational or scientific knowledge that is the source of the deepest and most authentic human knowledge in this life, yielding clarity. From a Christian perspective, it is LOVE that is the fount of true wisdom. If one can radiate with Christ’s divine love, becoming this them self, then it is the teaching that they will see all things with a particular, spiritual clarity. This (spiritual clarity) is what was illumining Frodo’s vision when he rebuked Gollum, which, while stern, was done in loving kindness. Further it gave him courage to do what was necessary at the time when it was needed most. Such clairvoyance, while certainly a form of “vision,” is not a vision of the eyes, or even of the mind – it is a vision of the heart, which will illumine these other faculties, allowing such a person to embody truly deep perception.
We should all be kind to everyone, everywhere – all the while alert to the deception of this fallen world, and face it bravely.