My brother and I have hobbit feet. They’re short and wide, and my brother’s have curly hair coming out of the toes (This is not lady-like, so God spared me that gift.). We are stable people, and this is good because life throws a lot of stuff at you. My brother has put his feet to good use and gotten his black-belt in Aikido. I just use mine to walk and hike miles and miles. We both know it’s easier to take on a long journey on solid feet.
My favorite part of The Lord of the Rings books is not the ending. From the beginning, we know that Frodo will triumph, the ring will be destroyed, and Middle Earth will begin to return to balance and goodness. The end is a given. I take joy in that ending, but it is one that I expected.
Instead, my favorite part of this trilogy is the middle (apparently, Bryan G. Robinson was onto this before I was.) where, despite knowing the ending, I can get caught up in the massive weight of the journey that the hero is on. It’s not so much that I enjoy the pain of the characters as that I appreciate it. I know what it is to be in the middle of the journey with my own doubts that the ending I KNOW is coming is, well, really coming. We all know that feeling.
When Frodo does not know if he will even make it to Mordor, when he watches his friends fall, when he doubts his own strength and commitment, when the eyes of Sauron wrinkle his soul, I know that feeling. I know that near-despair, that lack of faith, that fear. I know that in those moments all there is to do is to take another step, to plant another wide, sore foot on the rocky ground and shift my weight forward.
I also know that each step leads me one tiny bit closer to the vista at the top of the mountain where I can lay myself out on a shelf of a rock and rest with my feet toward the sun.
So I guess it really is the ending that gives me joy – actually, more specifically, it’s the beginning of the ending, when the tide begins to turn, when it becomes clear that the victory will be had, when it’s clear that all those steps of the journey have been worth it. That’s the moment I crave . . .
Yet, it is the middle where I find comfort. If Frodo can do it, then I can, too. God gave me hobbit feet for a reason.