Do you recognize the name Rivendell? If you’re a Tolkien fan you will know it as Elrond’s home, an elven place of healing and restoration. As I was making my retreat at Rivendell Retreat Centre, I thought I might dip back into ‘Lord of the Rings’. It has been over forty-five years since I read it. I wondered if some of the journey motif might speak into my current season, for I’m on the move and a quest too!
I decided to start with the pre-quel, ‘The Hobbit’, joining Bilbo and the dwarves on their adventure. Last night I woke in the middle of the night with a full brain. (Does that ever happen to you?) I felt like I was joining the gang as they made their way through Mirkwood, a deep, dark and dangerous forest. The guiding wizard, Gandalf had warned them to ‘stay on the path’. They were NEVER to set foot off it or they’d get lost and most likely perish. STAY ON THE PATH!! As the troop make their way into Mirkwood, it gets darker and darker. They walk for many days consuming all their food and water. The nights are pitch black except for colored eyes watching them. Oh, it’s murky….and then, so very tired, distraught and hungry, they smell food. ‘STAY ON THE PATH!’ I yell at them, but they don’t heed me and go racing after the smells, never to catch them, only to get into serious trouble. Why didn’t they listen?
As I woke last night I found myself in Mirkwood. All those busy brain thoughts were tempting me to leave the path: solve that problem, replay that conversation and make it come out differently, puzzle out the unsolvable ‘whys’ of life. Essentially the voices in Mirkwood cry out to draw me off the path of peace. Don’t walk that path any longer. Where is it taking you anyway? No…. I will stay on the path. I will.
Sometimes life is very murky, especially in the middle of the night! When life is murky, that’s the time to stay on the path. Stay with what you know to be true. Go back to what was right and good when the sun was shining. Keep that as your compass. Let the goodness you knew in the shining sun be your guide. It’s not the same as following a rule book. It is following the deepest lived experience you have. It is being authentic. As I read in a sacred text this week, ‘let these truths be written and held within your heart’.
One of my deepest truths is, that it is in, and through my authenticity that God’s Loving Spirit can work best within me. When I’m being as real as Anne as I can be, that is my best offering to God. It might be messy, but God doesn’t run from my mess. It might be dark, but I’ve known God’s presence in my darkest places. The Spirit of God doesn’t fear my darkness or hide from it.
When I walk through my own Mirkwood, God is always present, even in the darkness. My job…STAY ON THE PATH. Be my best self, even when I don’t want to, even when I get tempted by smells off the path. Stay on the path. Be my best self.
What has been your Mirkwood experience?
Love and prayers
Mystic in Motion
Contemplative Fire Community Leader Canada