Why Frodo Couldn’t Fly to Mordor

Do you suppose when Gandalf said “Fly you fools,” he meant for them to get the eagles to fly them to Mt. Doom?”

It’s a pretty good joke for fan’s of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. (Flee being a common definition for the word fly.) But as a devoted lover of the books (and movies) as well as a fan of British Mythos, I know the answer all too well to laugh. It is not the destination nor the winning in the end that denotes victory in good literature. It is the lessons learned upon the winding path that transform the orphan boy into the king, the clumsy peasant into hero, and wise wanderer into supernatural spirit. This is found in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and most interpretations of the King Arthur legends, as well as Tolkien’s trilogy. (Plus the Nazgul would have taken down the giant eagles before they reached Orodruin if Eowyn hadn’t defeated their Witch-king first.)

The art of Feng shui teaches a similar lesson in the importance of making a path that twists and turns slow but steady. A straight path moves too fast. Both wind and water that move too fast are destructive. Tornados and floods result from wind and water that build up momentum moving without barriers across great distances.

So too, is it true in life that the wise seek to improve, change and grow slowly, naturally in tune with the seasons. With reverence for those who go before and mindful of those that follow we in whose hands the fate of this world rests need not rush to save the world all at once, nor alone. Walking sure and steady encouraging others to join our march is the way.

If the giant eagles had successfully flown Frodo to Mt. Doom, they alone would have been the heroes and all the glory of the triumph of light over dark, good versus evil would belong to them. Instead through the company’s struggle “The Lord of the Rings” is filled with heroes of all shapes and sizes, no one single character stands alone. Frodo is carried by Samwise and Gollum destroys the ring. While Aragorn raises the army of the dead, and Peregrin helps Gandalf to save Faramir, it is the courage of a woman, Eowyn and a hobbit, Meridoc that brings down the Witch-king. Thus the story’s victory of good conquering evil is shared by all and glorifies the contributions of the smallest as much of the greatest.

So it is today as we pray to God and his angels (with wings like eagles) to save us, that the wise know in their hearts, when He lets us fall, it is because He know we are capable of so much more. Like a parent watching their child take those first steps, He knows He must let go or we will never learn to walk much less fly.

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