The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Friday, January 11, 2013

Roads Go Ever Ever On

By: Andrew M. Gilhooley

There is a scene in the last chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or There and Back Again which stirs me deeply every time I read it. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins, accompanied by the wizard Gandalf, is on the return journey to his home across the Water under the Hill at Bag End, from whence he was suddenly displaced over one year earlier on a warm April morning. The reason for his displacement was his sudden and quite unexpected inclusion into a quest with a party of thirteen dwarves to reclaim their stolen treasure and homeland of the Lonely Mountain from the great dragon Smaug. By this time in the story (chapter XIX) the mission has been completed: Smaug is dead and the stolen treasure and Lonely Mountain are reclaimed; and for that reason Bilbo is heading home. As the two travelers come one day to a rise, Bilbo sees in the distance the Hill which his hobbit-hole is under, and at the sight of it he suddenly stops his walk and speaks a soliloquy:

                        Roads go ever ever on,
                            Over rock and under tree,
                        By caves where never sun has shone,
                            By streams that never find the sea;
                        Over snow by winter sown,
                            And through the merry flowers of June,
                        Over grass and over stone,
                            And under mountains in the moon.

                        Roads go ever ever on
                            Under cloud and under star,
                        Yet feet that wandering have gone
                            Turn at last to home afar.
                        Eyes that fire and sword have seen
                            And horror in the halls of stone
                        Look at last on meadows green
                            And trees and hills they long have known.

A soliloquy is a character’s utterance of his innermost thoughts within the hearing of others; it is the speaking of his private thoughts aloud to himself while being oblivious as to whether anyone is listening to him or not. This is precisely what the above poem is; it is Bilbo’s reflections concerning his adventure which is now drawing to a close, which he speaks in the hearing of Gandalf on the road.

The heart of this soliloquy lies in the first four verses of the second stanza:

                        Roads go ever ever on
                            Under cloud and under star,
                        Yet feet that wandering have gone
                            Turn at last to home afar.

These verses stir me, because as a Christian I relate to Bilbo. Like him, I have been displaced from my home, for long ago in my father Adam I was exiled from Eden: my heavenly abode in the divine presence; and I am on an adventure away from that home, trekking upon roads under cloud and under star. Yet by the grace of God one day my feet that wandering have gone will turn at last to home afar.

That is my hope: that one day I will be restored to my heavenly abode in the divine presence; and it is the hope for all the elect saints of God. All were exiled from Eden in Adam as a consequence of his transgression, for all humanity is identified with him (Rom 5); but all who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore identify with Him—who as a second and greater Adam obeyed the Father actively in all things and never fell into transgression like the former, while also giving up His life passively as a vicarious sacrifice for His elect—will one day be brought back to dwell for eternity in a greater Eden, namely the new heavens and earth. And be assured that once we are home we shall never leave for another adventure again.

*Other articles written by Andrew concerning The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien: There and Back Again: The Story of the Christian Life

--Andrew M. Gilhooley is currently a sophomore at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida. Among his hobbies are fishing, archery, playing piano, writing, and reading classic literature. Upon graduation, Andrew plans to attend graduate school and possibly enter into bible translation ministry.

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