So, It’s true

Or Jill was right.

I was reading in the Old Testament, through a minor prophet, Zechariah.  It is not essential for you to know, but when he is called a “minor” prophet it does not mean he shunned certain keys when playing music.  It does not even mean he could not share the stage with “major” league, prophets.  It simply means he wrote less, and in some cases, I am thankful for that.

Anyway, he is barely getting started in his first chapter when he shares this startling image.

Verse 7: On (Feb 15, 519 b.c.), the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet … as follows:

8:  In the night I saw … a Man (an Angel or an image of God) was riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees that were in the ravine; and behind Him were horses: red, sorrel, and white. 9:  I asked, “O my lord, what are these?” And the angel acting as my guide said, “I’ll show you.”  10:  The Man standing among the myrtle trees answered, “The Lord sends these throughout the earth and patrol it.”

11:  And the men on the horses answered the Angel of the Lord, “We have gone throughout the earth and behold, all the earth sits at rest.”

It reveals a startling thing.  One, Tolkien may have simply read the text more closely than the rest of us.  Strider’s job description is clearly outlined here!  Two, the word “men” is implied in the text.  It could be that “they” were the horses answering, which makes Lewis correct in the Horse and His Boy.  Which means Solomon was right, and there are precious few possibilities under the sun that qualify as “new”.

The rest of the chapter talks about God’s heart to restore Jerusalem, but does not mention Elrond or elves, in case you got your hopes up too far.

Tolkien’s Translations

I am not touching JRR Tolkien’s etymological and philogical scholarship or astounding work in creating the languages of Middle Earth.  I am not touching them because the scope and brilliance is beyond me.  Humility 101 was hard for me, but this one is obvious.

I simply want to think briefly on two events that he translated into his works: one lovely and the other harrowing.  

The lovely one came while his beloved Edith sang and danced for him in a grove of hemlock trees near where he was convalescing (again) in World War 1.  She was enough for him, more than enough.  Out of all of the loneliness while he was at the front in World War 1, those minutes when her hair was still raven and her skin clear gave us the strong, vulnerable, winsome and brave women in the Trilogy.  Be they elven, long or short lived, born to horses or court: his women were royal, gritty, indefatigable, and every bit as brave as any man.  

And Edith was enough as his font of knowing, his muse, and his encourager.  My Jill is unlikely to sing, except when she is unaware of my attention, but she has faced our trials: financial and health, life and death with a courage that she would deny and I cling to in my own hopes.  

So Tolkien and all of the rest of us men have more than enough in the courageous love of one woman committing herself to any of us boys cum men.  

Tolkien also translated his WW1 experiences into gritty, harrowing, believable battles where men make their semingly feckless way across inconceivable mayhem and horror.  What is so astonishing is that after “second lieutenants (his rank) dying at the rate of a dozen a minute” and losing all but one friend among the millions dead in the first round of industrialized warfare — he still wrote that one man (or woman) could make a difference on a battlefield.  

Tolkien’s war privations of cold, lice, and infections as well as the shells packaging so many new ways to die trickled through his pen into men fighting for the existence of men as a species believably both on the battlefields and in the calling of Sam and Frodo with so much weighing down their very souls behind enemy lines.

JRR translatd both his love and his dread believably, beautifully into his works.  Courage is a terribly lonely calling against the backdrop of an entire world insanely trying to extinguish itself.  Love is courgeous work as well.  

I may not translate my courage nor my love anywhere nearly as well in print, but I must, I must translate it well enough so that my sons have a model on which to build something brave, something better than I did.  They must see their mom that way, and learn to see their wives and challenges no less courageously.  

We have an artist in residence

Jill’s brother, Steve is staying with us while he does a commissioned painting. 

He has lived his art on Britain’s coast, studied the Masters by leaving college to walk the museums of Europe, obtained recognition from some of the world’s most respected judging boards, and camped and lived in some of the most gorgeous spots on earth.

He lost tallest man in the family this Christmas to one of his nephews, Bjorn; and goes a few rounds with Jill every day about the changing world of art and e-commerce.  Their conversations range from the technical to profound. 

Two things mark our most profound differences.  I am a believer in Christ, and he is not, but he joins in the rhythms of our home and joins hands and is respectfully quiet while others pray.  The more interesting one may be that I have spent much of my life accessible to up to hundreds of people. 

He has spent most of his life privately, guardedly even.

It makes most of our conversations exploratory, tentative, and interesting.  He sees the world in terms of color, light / lighting, mood, composition.  I have never heard him use the word: beautiful.  But make no mistake, he can take up brush and color and capture beauty on a painting almost as much as someone could describe its beauty and convey a feeling about the scene. 

I spent most of my life describing beauty and life to others, making it accessible to them. 

He has caused me to consider again, if I am able some times to pass a beauty through my eyes and writing to others, a reality, a loveliness for someone else to be moved by it — while failing to be as moved as the one to whom I made it accessible. 

I can only hope that Peter Jackson enjoyed the Lord of the Rings a fraction of how much I was moved to tears and cheering, having already enjoyed Tolkien’s descriptions and action like drinking deeply of a innebriating wine. 

So to you and to me, do you enjoy the world you are passing on to your children, again, maybe for the first time?  Are you touched by the Hand of God who moves you to touch others in His Name?  Mother Teresa was bereft of her visions and intimacies which had sustained her when she moved to Calcutta.

Yet she stayed. 

Yet she stayed and milions were moved because of her.  Even while the silence inside dried her soul. 

This is a simple prayer.  May you get to enjoy at least some of the beauty passing through you to others.  If you know how to enlarge that beauty to yourself, share with the rest of us.