Not Having It All His Own Way


This day was no more difficult than any other day. Nor was it easier. It was fine. And full. And, as ever, productive.

Some days are heavier than others, yes? I would say it’s atmospheric, but the humidity hasn’t kicked in yet, and the skies today were mostly clear. Maybe it’s atmospheric in another sense though, in the Prince-of-the-Air sense, in that sense that war is being waged above and, even, all around us. The sense that battles go on– daily, momentarily– for our souls.


Still, it wasn’t a hard day. It was a day full of good conversations with students about papers, and rehearsals for a drama production, and meetings about the business of school. Yet I questioned as I drove home the effectiveness of my teaching. I doubted my impact as a parent. And under it all was that vague lack, that Absolute Depletion, the emptiness that comes of Spending It All.

There were tears (oh, yes) when I came home this afternoon. Some days it Just Can’t Be Helped. Tears and prayers and more tears. But there was Bill, too, and the comfort he brings. And then a long and hard walk and all the newborn (still so new) leaves. And tomato soup and a glass of red wine for dinner.

Then just as the bedtime routine was Nearly Complete, Everett made an announcement: “Oh, Mom, I forgot. I’m supposed to read you a page of something.”

“A page? What do you mean?” I wanted to know.

“Just a page. Read a page aloud. My teacher wants us to.”

He already had the book open: The Return of the King, lying where Will had left it on the coffee table. Everett had opened it to Will’s bookmark. He was ready to read.

“Okay,” I said. “Go ahead.”

And so he read:

Crouched under a great boulder they sat facing back westward and did not speak for some time. Then Frodo breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s passed,” he said. They stood up, and then they both stared in wonder. Away to their left, southward, against a sky that was turning grey, the peaks and high ridges of the great range began to appear dark and black, visible shapes. Light was growing behind them. Slowly it crept towards the North. There was battle far above in the high spaces of the air. The billowing clouds of Mordor were being driven back, their edges tattering as a wind out of the living world came up and swept the fumes and smokes towards the dark land of their home. Under the lifting skirts of the dreary canopy dim light leaked into Mordor like pale morning through the grimed window of a prison.

“Look at it, Mr. Frodo!” said Sam. “Look at it! The wind’s changed. Something’s happening. He’s not having it all his own way. His darkness is breaking up out in the world there. I wish I could see what’s going on.”

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