Without a doubt, one of my favourite books is J. R. R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings. I am also a big fan of Peter Jackson’s films based on the story, particularly the Extended Editions (which are the only versions of the movies I have watched).
In multiple polls, The Lord of the Rings has been voted the best book of the 20th century. This is a story that matters to a lot of people. Why? I can think of several reasons, but I believe a quote from toward the end of the film version of The Two Towers, sums it up pretty well;
Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.
I believe that the above quote is one of the best additions the film-makers made to the story. It does a brilliant job of capturing the spirit of the book.
Like the “great stories” Sam mentions, The Lord of the Rings is full of darkness and danger, and at times it seems that all is lost. Yet in the end, the evil is defeated and the shadow passes away.
It is the story of a journey. It is about the struggle between good and evil. It is a story about the smallest people (or hobbits) going up against tremendous odds and pushing through. It inspires us to keep going, even when we feel it would be easier to turn back or give up. To keep fighting to the finish; for nothing worth doing is ever easy.
The world may at times seem to be full of darkness and evil; we may be weighted down by all kinds of cares and sorrows and dread what is to come, and wonder “how could the end be happy?” Yet we must remember that there is still good in the world, and it is worth fighting for. That the darkness is only a passing shadow, “and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”
Your life too is a story. Make it one of the great ones, one of the stories that really matters!