Question: what do a birthday card I made for my friend Raz, a sermon I listened to on Sunday and the alternative title to The Hobbit, all have in common?
The answer is maybe only in my mind and is the title of this blog.
The full title of JRR Tolkien’s book is “The Hobbit or There and Back Again.” The sermon preached on Sunday concerned the journey to Emmaus. The set of papers I used for Raz’s card is called Kaleidoscope; it changes colour as you move the papers.
We have probably all had, as children, a kaleidoscope. You look into the tube from one end and see an intricate pattern of colours. You twist the tube and it becomes a chaotic jumble which then settles into another pattern. Each pattern is different from the one before and each pattern requires the process of change.
If you have read The Hobbit, you will remember that the Bilbo Baggins who returns home is not the same hobbit who left. The friends who started their journey to Emmaus, heart-sick and confused, were not the same people who ran joyously back to Jerusalem. When Raz receives his card, he will see blue/green change to pink/purple as it twists in the light.
The last few weeks have seen, for most of us, a fundamental change in our circumstances. If we have not been changed too, then we must already be at that place of total peace in which we become saints. Either that or we take stubborn to Olympic level.
Change is rarely comfortable. Bilbo Baggins encounters trolls, orcs and giant spiders even before he meets Smaug the dragon. None of these adventures were enjoyable at the time, even though they are the stuff of wonderful fireside stories afterwards – providing one has survived, that is!
One of the stories my husband tells is of the time he was stranded in the Canadian Wilderness. He and some friends were on a canoeing trip. I forget the details, but somehow, they became lost and spent some days existing on their rapidly diminishing rations and anything they could catch or gather. Eventually they were spotted by a rescue plane and the story ended happily. When telling the tale, he never dwells on the anxiety they all suffered. He does mention the killer mosquitos, but his story always centres on the delicious fish they caught, the wonderful wildlife they watched and the amazing night sky he saw so far from the light pollution of civilisation.
He returned from that trip with an assurance and confidence he did not take on it. The experience changed him.
None of us are stranded in Northern Canada; we are stranded at home. When we return to “normality”, I wonder what we will bring back with us; I wonder how we will have changed.
I know my priorities have changed. I see a lot of things differently now.
I hope we have all been changed for the better.
A Moodscope member.