“love as brothers”
1 Peter 3:8
You need to know, if you’re a Tolkien fan, that I’m not gonna get this exactly right. I love The Hobbit, but I’m less familiar with the books of The Lord of the Rings series, which is where I got this quote. So if I explain this wrong, just force yourself to look past it, and focus on the point. (I’m talkin’ to you, E.)
At the end of the last book in the series, The Return of the King, there are two characters, an elf and a dwarf, walking through Minas Tirith, the capital city of Gondor, which is the kingdom that belongs to Aragorn. Aragorn has been gone, fighting a war to regain his kingdom and take his place on the throne (hence: the return of the king) but he’s not there yet.
Part of what’s intriguing about this part for me, is that it’s an elf (Legolas) and a dwarf (Gimli). Aragorn, on the other hand, is a man. These three species don’t always get along. They have very different strengths, so their approaches to the crises they face often conflict with one another. They also have difficulties solving problems sometimes, because their values are disparate. But they had a common enemy, and that enabled them to work together and succeed, even when they didn’t agree.
Anyhow, as Gimli and Legolas stroll through the streets of Minas Tirith, they comment upon the state of disrepair that the city is in. Times have been hard, and because of the war, priorities did not include civic beautification.
“There is some good stone-work here,” Gimli said as he looked at the walls, “but also some that is less good, and the streets could be better contrived. When Aragorn comes into his own, I shall offer him the service of the stonewrights of the Mountain, and we will make this a town to be proud of.”
Legolas responded, “They need more gardens, too. The houses are dead, and there is too little here that grows and is glad. When Aragorn comes into his own, the people of the Wood shall bring him birds that sing and trees that shall not die.”
Different values. The dwarves knew about stonework. They were skilled in that area, and it mattered to them. That’s what Gimli wanted to improve for Aragorn. That’s what they could contribute.
Legolas and the elves, on the other hand, cherished the land and the things that grew. Don’t you love that line, “there is too little here that grows and is glad.” ? Legolas and his fellow elves could bring beauty to this place through their knowledge and skill, and he vowed to do so.
They saw a need, and each of them immediately knew of a way to bless the people of Gondor. They were ready and willing to use their unique gifts. Beautiful.
What can you do? And for whom?