[On occasion, Peace Garden Mama will include a bit of my newspaper work, published mainly Saturdays in The Forum, reprinted here with permission.]
And just like Bilbo Baggins, we’re off!
By Roxane B. Salonen, The Forum
One of my favorite scenes in the movie “The Hobbit” has Bilbo Baggins tearing through the lush, green hills of his quiet village, legs pumping hard, chest heaving, to catch up with Gandalf and the dwarves.
In his hand flails a contract that had been presented to him the night before, inviting him on a perilous adventure.
His dash-in-haste is met with the curious glances of those he passes; fellow citizens who are, like always, pushing carts, washing wagons, smoking pipes.
One of them calls out to him, but there’s no time for anything that would prevent Bilbo from his newly ignited aim.
“I can’t stop. I’m already late,” Bilbo says, like Alice’s rabbit.
“Late for what?” asks the confused villager.
“I’m going on an adventure!” Bilbo replies, flying away.
How familiar the feeling of having been invited on such an adventure, along with the exhilaration of realizing something incredible, though unknown, waits around the bend.
I’ve experienced it many times throughout my life – in my dorm room the first day of college, on the altar of my wedding, when learning I was pregnant with our first child.
Our lives present numerous chances to embark on adventures that will leave us forever changed. And after that courageous first leap, there’s no going back.
The most daring of all the adventures I’ve consented to go on, however, is that of my faith journey. Like Bilbo, I was offered enticement and left to ponder.
At moments on this adventure, I’ve questioned myself. Wouldn’t the saner path have been to remain in my quiet little other-world, pruning the tomato plants in the garden?
Indeed it would have been safer to wade in the shallow current humming nearby rather than head into vast unknown waters with a rag-tag band of fellow journeymen and women. I would have been spared the task of facing the dragon that lies sleeping in the mountain, coveting gold not rightly his.
But what fun would that have been?
I fear some think the life of the believer is one of drudgery, of carrying crosses, scraping the ground, a face of sullenness permanently affixed.
You can believe there are days when the going gets tough, when close calls and even death appear upon the path. But in between those are many more others of discovering buried treasure – one gem after another – and of living in abundance in ways that would not have been possible if not for those brave words: “Yes, I’ll go.”
To our good fortune, we are free to choose. As much as the one who calls us wants us to join the brigade, we cannot go against our will.
And when we do decide to go, guarantees are few.
Another poignant scene in the movie involves Bilbo and Gandalf in a corner together, talking with great seriousness about what’s at stake in the proposed adventure.
Intrigued, Bilbo asks the old wizard, “Can you promise I’ll come back?”
Gandalf responds with both uncertainty and assurance. “No. And if you do, you’ll not be the same.”
This journey of faith is not for the weak of heart. Like my friend says of parenting, “It’s not for wimps.”
If you say yes to the invitation, you’ll be challenged to the core and asked to go where many would not dare. You will plunge to the depths in wide waters, and rise to the tops of towering mountains.
Death is not just a possibility but a certainty. But with it comes a choice: death into nothingness or new life.
I’m with Bilbo, rushing now through emerald hills, a contract flapping vicariously at my side, a life of certain risk marked with untold fortune ahead.
I’m in. Are you?
This column was written exclusively for The Forum.
Roxane Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.