A couple of weeks ago Bilbo Baggins and a company of dwarfs made off for the second phase of their epic trek toward the Lonely Mountain, Smaug the dragon and their long forgotten gold. To be more exact it was the much publicized Hollywood movie version of Tolkien’s classic story of the famous hobbit’s journey.
The film was long and breathlessly awaited by the Andersons. Tickets for the midnight premier showing were duly purchased weeks in advance. Arrangements were made to arrive early and wait in line. And just as we settled ourselves with the other fans on the dusty carpeted theater floor behind the velour cords and tarnished brass posts, the texts started coming.
A client. Contractions. And other details my kids would classify TMI. Some back and forth, some waiting, some confirmation of more signs, much more obvious than any moon rune on a Middle Earth map.
In fact, things accelerated so quickly that, not unlike Biblo, I went flying out the door on my adventure, forgetting not just my pocket handkerchief but also my coat.
As I drove down the dark highway, shivering in the not yet warmed up mini-van, I reflected on the difference between Hollywood filmed adventures and real-life ones. My kids were back in the warm theater, putting on 3-D glasses to view spectacular images and professionally choreographed action scenes. They were seeing amazing acting, and listening to sound through huge speakers. But in all its epic explosive glory, their journey was still – pretend.
And then, there was my real adventure. A first baby. A difficult journey. Facing challenges greater than the getting out of Mirkwood, overcoming fears bigger than dragons, being innovative beyond the cleverness of hobbits, exhibiting a fighting spirit beyond the bravery of warrior dwarfs and elves, enduring pain greater than an Orc’s black arrow wound. And then, when all hope seemed gone of completing the journey, the explosive triumph of birth, quickly followed by the concern of needing to resuscitate. Believe me, never did a last minute tear jerking come back to life scene on Hollywood match the joy and tears of relief of parents and midwives upon hearing a baby’s first delayed cry.
I love adventure stories, and the films that tell them well. But for me, they will always pale in comparison to the real adventures I get called to take part in.
Today: I stand in church, my eyes closed, holding the elements, reflecting on Jesus’ birth and death.
I feel my phone vibrate silently. I glance at the screen. It’s a text.
I finish my moment with Jesus, and slip out of the church.
I’m off, on another adventure.