Monday, May 16, 2016

Another good reason to re-read Tolkien

I never thought much about Tom Bombadil, except to think him a little useless, as I recall. Mind you, it's been a long time since I read Tolkien's masterpiece. I give no credit at all to my youthful assessment of Old Tom. But anyway, C. R. Riley's The Bombadil Option makes me think and wonder. I also like the contrast, toward the end, between Bombadil's way and that of the crotchety and even deadly Old Man Willow. Anyway, to get what I'm talking about, go read the whole article.

I've been thinking a little about the last phase, the last chapter, of this life of mine. These thoughts are perhaps coming to me more often lately as I approach 60. I'm wanting this season of my life to count for something, to have worth. I'm not thinking here about what to do with myself after retirement, although that sort of question must eventually come into play. I'm thinking about attitude mostly. Worldview. Which is also what Riley's Bombadil Option is all about.

As a kid I thought Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night very inspiring and profound, but perhaps it takes youth and inexperience, that time in life when you turn wishful thinking into anthems, to believe such a thing. Now I do not so much want to go down fighting as to go down singing. Do not go songless into that goodnight. Maybe that too is wishful thinking, but I'm going to give it a try!

I assume that aging with hope is a whole lot different that aging without hope. That aging with a song, a true song, is better by far than sliding deathward songlessly. I assume that knowing by faith the glory that is to come . . . a glory not distant or foreign . . . but much like this home of ours, this earth, only with the glory of God filling our senses . . . is better by far than growing old with the uneasy feeling that nothing really matters. I mean, new world coming! That hope should keep you from becoming a crotchety old youth-hating hope-denying mission-killing lonely codger like Old Man Willow.

And that brings me to the second article that I read this morning. A funeral oration from John Piper called Seven Resolutions for Finishing Well. I usually try to avoid those 7-this and 4-that and 12-more-of-this type articles, but since I do want to finish well, I checked out Piper's take, and of course it's a good one. He's talking about joy, that elusive anointing.

There are a thousand more things to say about all this, but I'll end with a nod to Gerard Manley Hopkins, who was wiser about these things than most. God's Grandeur.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
   It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
   It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
   And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
   And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
   There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
   Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
   World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

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