Thursday, January 11, 2007
Smeagol & Gollum
Oh what a dreadful, mixed up world we have here. What dreadful, mixed up creatures we are.
Created free from sin, created with freedom to choose, and yet relishing the evil freedom permits.
When I was a teen I read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings several times. This amazing author, mentored by Dunsany (father of modern fantasy and a favorite of mine) and colleague of C. S. Lewis, spun an epic tale of good and evil, of the small and virtuous triumphing over might and supreme evil.
The greater struggle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light are echoed in the small wizened form of the creature Gollum.
Samwise the Brave does not trust him:
“Let’s just tie him up and leave him.”
“No! That would kill us! Kill us!," screeches Gollum.
“It’s no more than you deserve!”
Frodo turns pained eyes, gazing upon the wretch. “Maybe he does deserve to die. But now that I see him, I do pity him.”
“We be nice to them if they be nice to us,” Gollum pleads. “Take it off us. We swears to do what you wants. We swears.”
“There’s no promise you can make that I can trust,” says Frodo.
“We swears... to serve the master of the precious. We will swear on... the precious. Gollum! Gollum! "
“The ring is treacherous. It will hold you to your word.”
“Yes... on the precious. On the precious.”
“I don’t believe you! Get down! I said, down!”
“He’s trying to trick us. If we let him go, he’ll throttle us in our sleep.”
Despite the clear threat, Frodo has pity... sees the possibilities of what Gollum could have been.
We all have something of Gollum about us. And Smeagol as well. You see, once Gollum had been something else, a person with family, and friends. Someone who dwelt in the light.
The nasty little creature leading Frodo and Sam into the darkness of Mordor has two natures battling within.
The schizophrenic little beast argues with himself; Gollum bullies Smeagol, seeking to regain his evil desires, seeking to regain the ring.
There is something in all of us which deserves immediate punishment. I recognize the sense in Sam's wanting to just throw Gollum off the cliff and be done with it. We are dangerous. We don't change, not readily. But I suppose there is always the chance that we might find ourselves on the road to Damascus and be changed.
I think I'm a little like that. I want to be good. I want to be obedient. I want to serve my Lord. to be true. To be kind and loving and generous. But I am also seeking my comforts, my way, my own self-serving interests.
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
I hurt my Lord. He who suffered and died and tore through the laws of the universe to rescue me, He who loves me more than I love myself, I continue to hurt Him with my selfish nature.
Oh, what shall I do? How shall I make right this continual disobedience?
I am not strong enough to rise up against my own nature.
I take joy in my sins. I delight in my weaknesses. I relish the taste of forbidden fruit. I hold it dear, deep within my heart; I call it my precious.
This is where I must touch my heart. There is where I lend my hand, my strengths, to those who whipped and cursed and tormented and crucified my Lord.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
And in doing that I turn a new way, face a new day. Then a new day can come to me in turning to the Son, to watch the Son rise in my own heart.
“I can’t do this, Sam,” Frodo gasps.
“I know,” Sam says. “It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are.
“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end... because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was... when so much bad had happened? ...But in the end it’s only a passing thing... this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you... that meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories... had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going... because they were holding on to something."
“What are we holding on to, Sam?”
“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
The good that is in the world entered in two millennia ago, and still whispers to me from within my heart. It's worth fighting for, even if the fight is with myself.
I must listen to that whisper as carefully as I possibly can.