The Marriage of Aragorn and Arwen

Minas Tirith is invaded and conquered but in a manner that no one could have foreseen although one or two great souls, such as Faramir, might have dreamt of the possibility. But you would have had to have been a very great soul indeed to have foreseen this and a person of exceptional imagination too, for this is an invasion of beauty and few of us anticipate such a possibility breaking into the ordinariness of our lives although we might try to manufacture such a possibility through a vacation of some kind.

I try to imagine how the people of the city reacted to this invasion. Have they begun to forget the threat of the Shadow that lay over them for so many years? Is the freedom that they now enjoy becoming the new normal? Or are they a thankful people who will not forget the mortal danger that once hung over them? The order of the King means that they must make preparation for the coming of the Fair Folk but, with the exception of Legolas, they cannot have ever seen any.

And even those who have been close to Legolas cannot have had any experience that would fully prepare them for what they see at Midsummer in this blessed year. Even Frodo is overwhelmed by what he sees as Arwen enters the city.

“And Frodo when he saw her come glimmering in the evening, with stars on her brow and a sweet fragrance about her, was moved with great wonder, and he said to Gandalf: ‘At last I understand why we have waited! This is the ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fear pass away!'”

Every marriage is a triumph; an overcoming of obstacles and a uniting of difference. And every marriage is a sign of a longed for future in which all that is divided will be made whole and all life burst into a springtime of possibility and fruitfulness that will never die and every marriage is a sign of the uniting of the earthly and the heavenly. In every culture we have found ways, rites and ceremonies with which to celebrate this sign. We unite the personal and private happiness and hopefulness of two people and the public celebration of a whole community. Promises are made, rings may be exchanged, the couple may be garlanded with flowers and crowns placed upon heads. Even in poor communities this is a day when all dress as finely as they can. All eyes turn towards the bride as she enters, delighting in her beauty and wishing her happiness. And the bridegroom waits as he must, as he has made to do, in choosing to make this woman and this woman alone his happiness, and waiting for her to say yes to him too.

This is true for every marriage. No marriage is a matter of insignificance or inconsequence. It carries far too much meaning for that. But this marriage between the heir of Isildur, Elendil, Eärendil and Beren and the daughter of Elrond of Rivendell and the descendant of Lúthien Tinúviel is a consummation and an opening of hope that makes it a symbol for all peoples. Even as the long sojourn in Middle-earth of the Eldar begins to draw to its close so with the uniting of the Hope for Humankind and the Evenstar of the Elves life is rekindled for all.

For a while I have been thinking about the way in which I wanted to reflect on the story of Aragorn and Arwen. I thought that I would turn to the story as Tolkien tells it in the appendices to The Return of the King and that I would do it after the moment when Sam says to Rosie, “Well I’m back.” But the telling of their story seems to belong to this moment in the story as “Aragorn the King Elessar wedded Arwen Undómiel in the City of the Kings upon the day of Midsummer, and the tale of their long waiting and labours was come to fulfilment.” And so I intend to leave the main text of The Lord of the Rings for a little while to speak of their love and their labours.

This week’s artwork is by Hildebrant and comes from councilofelrond.com

9 thoughts on “The Marriage of Aragorn and Arwen

  1. Stephen…
    I am Gandalf the White…at least that is my alter ego, and I attend DragonCon each year dressed as him. I have been asked to officiate a wedding…ALL being done with a LOTR theme…between Aragorn (yes the groom is going to be garbed as such) and Arwen…I would love to use some of what you have written here in the introduction to the vows. Would you have any objections?

    Mithrandir
    (Rich to the rest of the world)

    • Dear Rich,
      I would be both delighted and honoured for you to use my words at the marriage of your friends. How kind and courteous of you to take the trouble to ask my permission to do so. I took the time to go back and to read this piece for the first time in a while and, apart from one grammatical error I was pleased with it. As you may have read in my personal profile I am an Anglican priest and I often celebrate weddings. I never cease to wonder at the mystery in which I have the privilege of being a part and I was trying to express some of this in my reflection on the marriage of Aragorn and Arwen.
      May your friends be blessed on the day of their wedding and in their life together and may you be blessed in your blessing of them.
      Stephen

      • THANK YOU Stephen…this is actually my third wedding, although my first as Gandalf. I was honored to do the wedding of the daughter of one of our closest friends and was flabbergasted when they asked. Like you I am amazed at the transformation that comes over two people I know so well when they marry.

        Thanks again…I know this will be a great addition to the wedding ceremony.

        Rich

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