Tag Archives: Tolkien

The Last March of the Ents and Oil

Posted by David

I am presently troubled by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf and it has reawakened a love for the planet—for God’s creation—that has been with me as long as I can remember.

When I was in my early twenties, like many passionate, justice-desiring youth, I was spellbound by nature, forests, rivers, oceans and living creatures in general. But as the pressures of human life (and sin) burdened my mind and body, I took less notice of the problems our planet faced. I still have taken notice, but not as an activist, more like a seabird that has been pressured out of his coastal home or a young Doug-fir surrounded by intersecting overpasses.

But even though part of me looks in scorn towards man’s greed and the things we do, I suppose I have matured in that I feel more long-suffering than I did when I was younger. I feel less like an environmental activist and more like an ent.

Do you remember Tolkien’s Ents? Ents are patient forest-dwelling creatures found in the Lord of the Rings. They are a race of men that resemble trees.

“Hoom, hum, I have not troubled about the Great Wars”, said Treebeard; “they mostly concern Elves and Men. That is the business of Wizards: Wizards are always troubled about the future. I do not like worrying about the future. I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you undertand me: nobody cares for the woods as I care for them, not even Elves nowadays.”

After lengthy deliberation in The Two Towers, the Ents decide to take action against the evil wizard Saruman. They march against Saruman’s Isengard and eventually become so enraged that just the power of their voices alone help destroy Saruman and Isengard. “If the Great Sea had risen in wrath and fallen on the hills with storm, it could have worked no greater ruin.”

As oil gushes up from the seafloor, I feel like Treebeard in a quandary. Our world is controlled by a Saruman archetype and he and his brood cause suffereing to our planet, its creatures, and us. Thankfully, the damage is not forever. But like the Ents at Entmoot before they marched, I am still in deliberation about what to do.

As the oil bubbles up, I think to myself, will this event is a turning point for mankind? Is this the point when the stones cry out saying, “Look, you humans! Look what you are made of. Look at the black, slimy filth that fills the sea. Take a good look. Can’t you see covetness, the false god of profit, and murder in your own heart? Who have you heard say, ‘I wish gas prices weren’t so high‘?”

Folks, it does get better, but only in the man we know of as Jesus of Nazarus, for it is to him and only him that the stones cry out in tears of black.

I can hear Treebeard now, “Hoom, hoom, a-hoom…”

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Luke 19:37-39

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Sehnsucht

Posted by David

I recently came across the curious word, Sehnsucht, while reading an article by C.S. Lewis. It forced me to look it up. It’s German and doesn’t seem to have an adequate translation in English. It’s the sort of word that’s difficult explain in any language. The closest word I know to it is nostalgia.

Wikipedia states, “Sehnsucht is a German word that literally means ‘longing’ or in a wider sense a kind of ‘intensely missing’.” I get the feeling that this word may refer to a peculiar, fleeting mood that overcomes me every now and again.

My wife was looking at a Lopi knitting book a few years back and I noticed a photograph of a house along the sea in Iceland. For a few moments I was overwhelmed with the feeling. It is like deep nostalgia, but because I’ve never been to Iceland, it’s a nostalgia for something I’ve never known. I get the same feeling for the ‘North’ country, whatever that means. High latitude skies, cold winds across the bracken might trigger the feeling in me. I also get this feeling from simpler things, especially good children’s literature. Try the original Winnie-the-Pooh Series, especially the last chapter of The House at Pooh Corner.

I also get the feeling when think about The Hobbit and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. After reading those books in rapid succession, I went through a mild depression when I realized I had left the place for good, the series of books were over and I couldn’t go back. Today, I still long for the Shire in my life. But it can’t be. I know that. There is a purpose of Sehnsucht and its purpose is to point us in the direction of life. We are not supposed to go back or retreat into or relive or even seek out to restore the Sehnsucht in our lives. I expect that one day I will awaken into it. I will learn that it was God calling all along. If I understand correctly, this is how C.S. Lewis understood it, too.

Just a couple of days ago I had another experience with Sehnsucht in the early morning hours. I had one of what I call my ‘Nostalgia Dreams’. It’s always the same. I’m in a beautiful dream, usually of childhood. Then I slowly recognize in the midst of the dream that it’s only a dream. Then it hits me. An intense wave of sadness, akin to depression, sweeps over my body. The feeling is so strong that I’m shocked into consciousness. At first, I can still feel the deep longing and sadness. Within about a minute or so, it is mostly faded. But the feeling never really ever fades completely. My entire being lives partially in Sehnsucht. Today, I know it’s God calling me home.

It makes me wonder if Jesus lived his life on earth with this feeling. As Emanuel, ‘God with us’, how greatly he must have longed to return to his Father.

The light ahead was growing stronger. Lucy saw that a great series of many-colored cliffs led up in front of them like a giant’s staircase. And then she forgot everything else, because Aslan himself was coming, leaping down from cliff to cliff like a living cataract of power and beauty…

Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”

Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”

Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.

“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are—as you used to call it in the Shadowlands—dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

The Last Battle, The Cronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

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