The Fellowship Carry Frodo and Sam to Mordor

So now we have seen that Sam carries Frodo to Mordor and, at the end of the journey, he will do so literally. Frodo carries Sam to Mordor, helping him to grow into the kind of person capable of making such a journey. Without the widening of Sam’s imagination he could never have begun the journey, let alone finished it. But even with all the support that Frodo and Sam give to each other they could never have got to Mordor alone. Next week we will meet their guide in the journey, one they never expected to meet in that role. This week we will see how they are carried by their friends and in so doing think about our relationships to one another and how we touch one another’s lives, often without realising how we do it.

When the Fellowship of the Ring is broken by the events at Parth Galen Merry and Pippin are carried like baggage toward to Isengard by orcs that Saruman has sent to waylay the company. But even as the captors hurry westward bearing their prize messages are sent to Barad-dur by orcs loyal to Sauron bearing news of what has been taken. In their gentle loyalty to their friends and then, following their escape from the orcs in their rousing of the Ents, Merry and Pippin play a key role in Saruman’s downfall. But it is not only in the downfall of Saruman that they play a part. When Sauron receive news that hobbits have been taken to Isengard much of his attention is given to the doings of an ally Sauron knows to be unreliable.

Once they know of the capture of the young hobbits Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli choose not to follow Frodo and Sam but to seek to rescue Merry and Pippin. From the start there is little chance of success but they know they cannot simply abandon the young hobbits to torture and to death. If they had been crude utilitarians Aragorn and his companions would have sacrificed Merry and Pippin to some abstract concept of “the greater good” believing they might achieve that good by helping Frodo and Sam take the Ring to the fire. They reject such calculated morality and in following the orc band they meet Eomer and his warriors and then, later, Gandalf in the Forest of Fangorn. After this they travel with Gandalf to Edoras to free Théoden from bondage before aiding him in the victory over the forces of Isengard at Helms Deep thus making Rohan an active participant in the war who had been reduced almost to miserable inactivity. When Sauron learns of this his attention is given even more to events away from his border.

At first the Fellowship are not aware of what they are giving to Frodo and Sam by their faithfulness in doing what they can. Later, after they receive news from Faramir, they will know that by openly challenging Sauron’s might they can prevent him from fortifying his borders preventing any from getting in or out of Mordor. Their deeds are heroic and without them all that Frodo and Sam could do would have been worth very little. If victory had not been gained at Helms Deep or the Pelennor Fields Frodo and Sam would have had very little to return to but equally without the success of Frodo and Sam’s mission those victories would have meant nothing. Sauron would have triumphed and all would have been vain.

In his letter to the Galatians in the New Testament, Paul tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” What we see from the relationship of the members of the Fellowship to each other that it is not just, or even primarily, in being physically present to one another that we can do this. The Fellowship carry Frodo and Sam simply by being faithful to their tasks. Meister Eckhart wrote that “Wisdom consists in doing the next thing you have to do, doing it with your whole heart and finding delight in doing it.” He might have added, “And in so doing you will bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

7 thoughts on “The Fellowship Carry Frodo and Sam to Mordor

  1. I love this. I think that Eowyn is great character to analyze for this idea also; she’s caught between the lure of doing something great and heroic, and the necessity of having someone strong stay behind and make sure there is a home or people to save through such deeds. Because she gets to perform both roles (Helm’s deep vs Minas Tirith) she’d be a nice case study.

    • Many thanks for your comment. There is something about the relationship between choice and necessity here, I think. Aragorn is in agony as long as he has a choice & Frodo too. Once the choice is made, Aragorn to follow Merry & Pippin and Frodo to go east to Mordor alone, a simplicity is achieved. As Eckhart puts it, they are able to do “the next thing” and with a whole heart. For Eowyn I wonder if we can say the same, that while she longs for the great deed even as she is pulled back to the anonymous defence of the homestead she is in turmoil. Once she joins the Ride of the Rohirrim all choice leaves her and she too can live the wholehearted life. We know that the deed that she and Merry perform at the Pelennor Fields is decisive in that battle and perhaps in the War of the Ring. What strikes me is that it almost has to take place in secret. It is only after it is done that it becomes public both to be lamented and celebrated. And it is a deed that carries Sam and Frodo and all who labour with them. In the Peter Jackson film Eowyn is given the right word when she says to Merry and to herself, “Courage, Merry! Courage for our friends!”

  2. “Wisdom consists in doing the next thing you have to do, doing it with your whole heart and finding delight in doing it.” Such a hard thing to do, sometimes, ain’t it? At least, I find it so. An easily distracted mind, and a tendency to become overwhelmed by the “big picture” are my primary obstacles.
    It’s tough in another way, though, too. In Aragorn’s case, I think we see that. The poor man is absolutely tortured by his sense of failure, believing that his choices, however honestly made, were the wrong ones. We have the Word, and the Spirit, and our trust in God, but even with all of that, right choices are often difficult to make. Choosing Merry and Pippin was an act of mercy and love, and an acceptance of Frodo’s choice, but an argument could have been made for Aragorn to go after the ringbearer instead, or to send one of the “three hunters” after Frodo and the other two after Merry and Pippin.

    I think this is a place where God’s mercy and providence come into play, hallowing that which is, in humility, submitted to him. I wonder if Aragorn had been arrogant in his choices, even if those choices were materially the same, what the outcome might have been.

    • I went back to this posting this morning because I wanted to think about it in relation to something I want to write about later today. When I did so I realised that you had left a comment to which I had never replied. At first I was shocked because I always try to reply to every comment and I value yours particularly; then I saw the date and realised that you had written just a few days before my mother died and that my thoughts were elsewhere as they were to be for a while after. I used both my writing and this blog as a deliberate way of confronting my grief head on. There is probably more to be done there but I trust that I will know the right time to do it.
      I looked back at what you wrote and especially at your thoughts regarding Aragorn’s torment. I remember a wise old man telling me that I should simply do what I could and to leave the rest to God. I was a young minister and (proudly) anxious about meeting the expectations of others. That really connects with the quotation from Meister Eckhart that you began your comment with. And you are right to say how hard it is. I wonder if the great inner struggle of each day is to reach a place where I can offer all that I have done to God and to leave it there. Of course that will be done with a profound awareness of my own shortcomings and, I hope, of God’s goodness too.
      I know that you have made a big choice recently and I think of you prayerfully now as I write this.

      • ^_^ Hi!
        I treasure your prayers. My big decision has resulted in my being already much happier, and my now over-active muse has been distracting me from blogging. I am trying to get back to it, though. I miss it, and you, and all the folks I get to interact with through this avenue.

      • I was explaining the blog to someone whose wisdom I respect but who does not read it. I described the business of writing as being a lonely matter for me and that a blog allows me to meet and discuss ideas with people. I hope that your “over-active muse” is encouraging you on the solitary business of writing. I look forward to seeing what is emerging.

  3. Pingback: Shagrat and Gorbag Carry Frodo to Mordor | Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings

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