He said it casually in passing.

“Mom, you really need to write an article about The Lord of the Rings.”

“Okay”, I replied, “Only if you help me.”

It is my 10-year-old who has just finished the books, and has proposed the writing assignment to me.  As the homeschooling mom accustomed to handing out the orders myself, it all seems a little backward, but I thought it wise not to miss an opportunity to have him guide me in sharing the valuable lessons he’s learned.  I have taken down my notes and pray I communicate his little soul’s thoughts well.

He first mentions the hobbits’ climb up Mount Doom and quotes Sam’s most memorable line:

“I can’t carry the ring, but I can carry you.”

Sam throws Frodo on his back for Frodo has all but exhausted his strength under the weight of the ring and his mission to carry and destroy it.  And now Sam offers the last morsels of his inner conviction to lay down his own life for what is good in this world.

“What did you learn from that scene?” I search him further.

“To never give up.” he replies.

Then, he explains, reinforcements to hobbits come thundering over the land on horseback to distract the evil eye of Sauron away from these climbers of Doom. Assembling outside the walls of the city the heroes stand facing innumerable orcs who make ready to crush them on the other side. Aragorn and Gandolph, Legalos and Gimly, Merry and Pippin all gather together. They plan to shift Sauron’s eye onto them.

“Big chance of death?

Small chance of victory?

Well, what are we waiting for?” jokes Gimly.

The diversion works well and a great battle ensues that gives the poor hobbits their chance to carry the ring to the summit of Doom.  It is as it has been for all of the trilogy’s battles –no thought of comfort or self, but to sacrifice all to honor all that is good.  These warriors become all they were created to be – unafraid to fight evil, they are free.

Raising two boys aged 13 and 10 has placed me in a world of sword and saber battles, swinging bats and touchdown tackles, and endless races to the top of the stairs.  What I notice seems to spring from the very essence of who they are at their core as boys. They know instinctively how to engage in a battle.  The ugliness of sin is real and experience has led me to teach them to face real evil, and call it what it is. At the same time, real joy can be experienced when one knows they’ve been called to step up to the fight for the good.  Steeped in Catholic vision, The Lord of the Rings can be a source of profound discussions with two young boys making their way to true manhood.

Little hobbits, big task….these are my son’s final thoughts.  He reasons that it could be a little boy in Branchville – someone no one’s ever heard of- who might be called to do something big…bigger than he’s ever imagined.  I imagine this just might be true.

Copyright 2011 Cynthia Ann Costello