Fairy tale does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat…giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy; Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
I have vivid lack of imagination. That’s why I can read something, like The Lord of the Rings without finding it frightening. It’s quite another thing watching the movie, where real images formed to fill in my somewhat vague picture of Orcs and the battle in the mountain fortress of the Hornburg at Helm’s Deep.
We each have our own Helm’s Deep. A place of battle and defeat where only the lost can be found. It is where we end.
In real life, as in Fairy Tales, we’re called to suspend our disbelief. It’s a fortress of faith where the battle is over. The price was so high, it was stunning the first time we heard of it. We know it’s true. We know the ending. We get lost in the middle. Too easily, what was once so vivid, begins to fade back onto the fragile tissue sheets of an ancient text.
I think Tolkien was right. It is the existence of sorrow and failure that creates, in us, the need for joy and the possibility of deliverance. And it’s in regularly remembering how the battle was won, even as grace and mercy rise up and fill us, that we are led to Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.