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Meanderings by josh m. shepherd: #3: Elves And Ego
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Galadriel and Celeborn.Generations later, a great procession headed for the sea. The remnant of Noldor returned to Eldamar by the Straight Way—except Galadriel, and those who fell in battle. Most accounts say she refused their pardon. Now that the Valar had intervened and slain Morgoth, she and her husband Celeborn could establish a place. How could they give up their high stature in Middle-earth to return and be one of many?

Nothing significant came of this desire until the Rings were forged. An unmatched friendship between Elves and Dwarves resulted in the union of great skill and great strength. Underground they quarried, shaping rock into a beautiful kingdom later known as the Mines of Moria.

Three elves recieve rings.One day a noble visitor came to the excavations. He convinced the Noldor that they should attain to make the deepest halls in the most beautiful styles, and even think up new works. From this manner of striving and grasping came nineteen rings: three for the Elves, seven for the Dwarf-lords and nine for the kings of Men, as The Fellowship of the Ring film presents in its opening narration (spoken by Galadriel).

"In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a Master Ring to control all others." The mysterious, apparently virtuous being who came to the mines was, in fact, Sauron.

Yet one twist remains. Sauron had never touched the three rings given to Elves, though they had been forged by his knowledge. To the three who wore them, a secret was revealed. "As soon as Sauron set the One Ring upon his finger [the Elves] were aware of him—in anger and fear they took off their rings" (The Silmarillion 345).

The terrible eye of Sauron.This wouldn't do, for Sauron would rather lose all Middle-earth than withdraw his hand from the Wise. He warred against them to recover "his" rings. Thus three ring-bearers were appointed in secret. Galadriel received the Ring of Water.

The white lady's realm of Lothlórien, a haven for Elves both high and earthly, flourished for millennia under the influence of this ring—for its power was redemptive, not controlling, if she chose so. Rather than domination, her attitude towards her ring and her realm became one of stewardship.

A surprised Galadriel.The story goes on, without a true resolve until The Return of the King. Still, we can examine Galadriel's words from the first film with new understanding: "I passed the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel." Incidentally, the Lothlórien scenes in The Fellowship of the Ring have been drastically changed in the 'Extended Edition' DVD — a version that is much more true to Tolkien and worth checking out.

J.R.R. Tolkien, pondering with his pipe.This tale also illuminates a much higher Word. "For we have become partakers of Christ," reads Hebrews 4:14-15. "If we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.'"

To be sure, this vast story is no direct allegory. Yet a redeemed imagination, as possessed by J.R.R. Tolkien, can teach many lessons without preaching. Of love he knew much… for he had a Savior.
- The co-founder of cMusicWeb.com and a charter member of The Official Lord of the
Rings Fan Club, Josh M. Shepherd is currently studying at Oral Roberts University.
April 2004
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