I'm near the end of reading LOTR once again, and the scenes of Sam making his way through the darkness and filth of Mordor to find Frodo are so good. He's terrified, tired, hungry and heartsick. He assumes Frodo is dead but goes after him anyway, not knowing the way and ill-prepared to fight orcs and Uruks. He does all of this because of his true heart. He loves Frodo and will not abandon him, even if the cause appears hopeless. He gets up when he's down. He leaps in front of his enemy, shouting. At his lowest moment, instead of laying down and giving up, he sings in the darkness. At first all he can muster are quavering childhood ditties and rhymes, then as his strength rises, he beats back the darkness by singing about the light and beauty of his home. Mmmm. I just love it--so satisfying to read.
Many people point to Sam as their favorite character and even the true hero of the tale, and perhaps it is because many can relate to him more than the shiny, beautiful people of Middle Earth; the ones who have perfectly flat bellies and all those cheekbones. Those of us who bumble along, our packs overstuffed and swinging with pots and pans because someone's got to cook, knowing we can't keep up with the knightly, good-looking people ahead of us, and wondering if we are getting anything right at all--we are the folks who love Sam. And because, as Sam observes, we don't turn back when we have the chance, and we do that over and over again, after time we find that we've accomplished something pretty amazing.
I am definitely a bumbler, a try-er, a jumper-in, and it's generally because of my stupid, big heart. It's a good heart, don't get me wrong. It gets me out of my equally big brain and into the real world to talk to real people. Most of the time, however, when my heart leads me, I'm thinking, like Sam,
"Wrong again, I expect, but it's my job to go right up to the top first, whatever happens afterwards."
Lisa is still living here with her two young sons, and it continues to challenge my equilibrium in ways that I still don't fully understand, but am learning to accept. I suppose it's with the acceptance that balance can be restored. Still, I spend my days in a near perpetual state of Not Knowing What to Do: Help more? Help less? Coach her constantly? Parent the boys? Leave them alone? Etcetera. Nearly always I feel clumsy. Wrong again, I expect. But I keep going, and arching over all the daily uncertainty is a helpful brightness of hope that I really am doing the right thing by giving her a safe place to live and that it will, as prophets have testified, "All work out."
Her potential and individual worth as a child of God are what keep me going, not any particular successes or milestones at this point. Luckily, I'm surrounded by true-hearted companions on all sides. They look for me in the dark towers of life, and I look for them, same as I'll keep trying to help Lisa. We are all stumbling along, but we sing out and hear the other voices and know we are not alone.