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Frodo and the Shire

November 4, 2010

Maybe I’ve mentioned this topic before, but I would like to take a different direction with it…

In the final chapters of the Return of the King Frodo is still deeply and irrevocably scarred by his long journey to Mordor as the Ringbearer. As much as he loves the Shire (indeed he was very reluctant to leave to take the Ring to only Rivendell) he cannot find complete healing there ever again. After several years of periodic episodes of grave “illness”, Frodo decides to leave Middle Earth with Bilbo, Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel, by way of the Grey Havens. The scene is very heart-wrenching when you realize that Sam is unaware until the very end that Frodo is leaving too. In the end Sam is able to accept that Frodo’s journey has left him too scarred to stay, that no matter how much he loves the Shire, Frodo cannot stay. No amount of time can bring healing to the depth of the wounds received along to the road that finally ended at Mount Doom. The least of Frodo’s scars is the missing ring-finger, bitten off by Gollum. We don’t ever find out whether or not Frodo found the healing he sought, but we receive a description of the shores of Valinor, and can only assume he found peace there.

As with just about every one of my Lord of the Rings/Hobbit analogies, only one aspect of this analogy has anything to do with what I am trying to share. So hopefully I will make sense.

Like Frodo, my journey has changed me forever. As I have stated in older posts, it was a journey that found me and compelled me onward with a sense of urgency. Along the way I was never scarred, wounded or anything of the sort. Mine was a journey of truth revealing itself to me in its fullest sense. Though I suppose it could be said that there were spiritual “perils” as my long-held beliefs were challenged and put to the test. While I have said it before, let me restate here, that just as the Quest had many points at which it could have failed completely, so too did I experience doctrinal and mental roadblocks that threatened to end my journey. All seemed lost and hopeless. Frodo and his friends scarcely made it to Rivendell, not to mention the perils of the road to Mount Doom and the final test that awaited him and Sam there. Seemingly miraculously Frodo and his friends always made it out alive. Gandalf even conquered death, so to speak. Every single roadblock I came across, God found just the right thing to dismantle it.

When people ask me about my decision to become Orthodox, they almost always say something about “all that ritual and stuff.” One of the things that I tell people that I can hang my hat on, so to speak, is the fact that this journey came looking for me. Not only that, but every time it seemed like I could go no further, I realized I could not just go back to Protestantism, and God showed me the way past whatever difficulty I came across. I know that this journey is in the hands of none other than God Himself.

When I say I could not go back to being a Protestant, it is not to say that it was a bad thing to have been one. I would never have known Christ had I never been a Protestant. I am grateful for my past, but I am all the more excited for the future. While I have come to change my understanding of many of the things I learned as a Protestant, the foundation was Christ, and it was Trinitarian. It had all the basics. What I am now entering is the fullness.

Once I knew that the journey was at the point of no return, and I had made the decision to surrender to the mystery of salvation as found in the Church, there was no life for me in the Shire any more. I could not live as a Protestant but ascent to the truths of the Orthodox Church, occasionally taking in a service, celebrating a feast or two throughout the year, or praying the prayers in private. As Met Kallistos tells it in his book  The Inner Kingdom, the bishops are the teachers and protectors of the apostolic teaching and tradition. The Orthodox Christian lives in communion with the bishops. I don’t just want to be Orthodox, I must be Orthodox. Not just a few truths added to what I already believe, but a radical change in my way of life as a Christian. A whole life.

Unlike the leaving for Valinor, which would take Frodo forever away from his home, friends and family, I head to a metaphorical Valinor. To be sure I will no longer be a member of our Presbyterian Church, but will be a full member in the Antiochian Archdiocese. Not that I don’t have a great love for my friends at the Presbyterian Church, for I do very much. I, however, would be kidding myself if I did not make a full entry into the Church. Like I said, being as this is a metaphorical Valinor, I will still see all the people I love. I get to do what St Andrew did 2000 years ago, call my friends to “Come and see.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2010 6:29 pm

    Welcome! I entered the Church through a lifetime as a Protestant Christian as well, and a Reformed Baptist for the 9 years immediately preceding my entrance to the Church. Do you know when you’ll be received yet?

    • November 6, 2010 11:29 pm

      Thank you for commenting. I do not yet have a date for entry into the Church. My priest is wanting to gauge the family dynamic a little more before he receives me in. My wife is not interested in Orthodoxy at this point. While my oldest (9) is on the fence, and my 5 year-old and 1 year-old could be baptized under my entry, my priest wants to make sure that my wife would not object to the girls entering the Church with me. If there is an acceptance on the part of my wife, then he feels there is no reason to not receive me by Nativity or Theophany.
      I would love to enter the Church as a family, but that is in God’s hands at this point. All I can do is pray, and continue to live out the life in Christ as it is lived in the Church, hoping that it speaks to her and draws her in. She is a loving and godly woman, so I don’t want to give the wrong impression by saying she is not interested.
      So did you come in solo, as a family, etc? How long have you been Orthodox now?

  2. November 19, 2010 7:23 am

    thank you for visiting my blog. your site is very well written and welcoming. i’ll check back often. i hope you visit my site also. please visit my other blog

  3. November 19, 2010 3:49 pm

    Thank you for your kind assessment of my blog. I have checked out both of your blogs. I am grateful for your passionate voice on behalf of others.

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