It was a hard path and a dangerous path, a crooked way and a lonely and a long. Now they could look back over the lands they had left, laid out behind them far below. Far, far away in the West, where things were blue and faint, Bilbo knew there lay his own country of safe and comfortable things, and his little hobbit-hole. He shivered. (The Hobbit; J.R.R. Tolkien)
I often joke with a couple of young adult friends of mine, “We are all hobbits, after all.” I never knew how true that statement was until I started to read The Hobbit for the first time this past month.
The above quote from the beloved adventure book by J.R.R. Tolkien reminds me of why our journeys resemble the journey of Bilbo Baggins, the lovable hobbit. It also reminds me of the quote from our Pope Benedict XVI:
The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.
Just as Bilbo set off on his adventure with 12 dwarves in tow, we set off on journeys of faith each day, not sure of what lies ahead of us, but certain that our hobbit holes only offer comfort…and that we are not made to stay in the hobbit hole.
And Bilbo’s journey brings him through valleys, dark forests, and desolation, where the impossible seems – well, IMPOSSIBLE.
Bilbo marches forward with his friends, and he is fortified by these friends and encouraged by leaders and mentors. This encouragement leads him to the end of his journey, where he becomes the leader of the pack. His persistence and diligence on the journey brings him to self-awareness, fulfillment and joy. His acquaintances offer moments of consolation, and become his best friends on the journey.
Reading The Hobbit for me recently has been spiritually awakening. As a Christian, and particularly as a Catholic who embraces both the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection, my journey has been one of suffering and faith-filled longing for Christ. As a working Catholic mom, my job outside of the home has been both a source that feeds my faith desire, and that adds to my suffering. At times I have been asked to re-think my work outside of the home by well-intentioned friends who believe staying at home is for everyone. Most every week, I have moments of clarity followed by moments of confusion about my work, and how it is integrated with my faith. I am reminded of the quotes above, and I remember that I am not made for comfort, and certainly, that is right where Christ has me right now…and I’m learning to be okay with that, and to embrace the Crosses and thank God for the consolations. The journey is much like Bilbo’s, and I often look back at my comfortable hobbit-hole, realizing I can’t go back.
Last week, I did something I am totally uncomfortable doing. I met strangers who became friends. To be honest, we were all on-line friends via facebook and the blogging world, but we became REAL friends last week. These women, some of who stay at home, some of who work from home, and some of who work outside of the home, are amazingly faith-filled, and know the faith journey is like that of a hobbit. We’ve all felt small among giants, we’ve all experienced the darkened forests, we’ve all known the beauty of childbirth and childrearing, we’ve all cried tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These women are rocks of faith, and they KNOW without a doubt they were not made for comfort, but for greatness…GREATNESS in the Lord. They use their talents and gifts to glorify Him daily…and though this is sometimes fun, it is also lots of hard work, and sometimes brings suffering. I felt UNITED with them in my own suffering, knowing we were embracing the Cross together.
My journey didn’t seem so lonely last week. It wasn’t a treacherous journey – it was a joyful faith journey. And I really liked that!
My prayer for each of you is that your journey of faith is filled with embracing the Cross and feeling the consolation of Christ. I also pray this is not a solo trip – that you embrace those friends placed on your path, and they become your REAL friends on this journey.
Peace of Christ to you and yours!