Three is Company

Had you been here last night, just after the evening band and choir concert (which was lovely, just lovely), you might have seen a man in his black toboggan climbing the roof of his house, camera in hand.  Of course, no one did see me up there – after all, who thinks to look on top of people’s roofs after nightfall?  But there I was, all the same, trying to get the best shot of the Moon I could.

Last night, the Moon was spectacular.  It hovered just above the trees with a few narrow clouds in a deep gold, looking more oblong than circular.  A “Three is Company” moon, as Ben and I would say, referencing one of our favorite paintings of three hobbits leaving the Shire on a quest much bigger than any of them would have imagined.

And while pictures will never do justice to such wonders as the Moon, here’s mine all the same:


And here’s Ted Nasmith’s painting:


What I was really wanting to say, though, has far less to do with the shape of the Moon than it does the passage that painting is based on.  Here it is, from the third chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring:

As they began to climb its first slopes they looked back and saw the lamps in Hobbiton far off twinkling in the gentle valley of the Water.  Soon it disappeared in the folds of the darkened land, and was followed by Bywater beside its grey pool. When the light of the last farm was far behind, peeping among the trees, Frodo turned and waved a hand in farewell.

‘I wonder if I shall ever look down into that valley again,’ he said quietly.

It’s a scene that means a lot to me, perhaps at this stage in my life more than ever.  Leaving behind a place they know and love – a place they’ll always call Home – the simple hobbits have no idea if they’ll ever be back.  But they strap on their bags and go all the same.

I do miss home – I miss my mom’s Cherry Pie O-My, my favorite table at Panera bread, frisbee games with my friends, and that patch of woods I used to go when I was on the verge of tears.  On the mission field, though, nostalgia can be devastating.  If your thoughts are constantly on your old Home, you will never be able to make a new one, and your heart – your passion – will be far from where you are.

Whether I’m here for six months or twenty years, I’m in danger of never really being here if I don’t make Home where I am.

In the end, of course, the hobbits do come back.  Frodo does look down into the valley all over again – but now the looking is different.  Is it better? Is it worse?  Who can say?  Having travelled to Rivendell, and farther yet – to Mordor, and back again – the Shire is never the same for Frodo.

He realizes, it seems – after all his journeying – that his real Home is not a place at all.

6 thoughts on “Three is Company

  1. I think it’s a great adventure…one you will never forget, whether you stay there 6 months or 20 years. Thanks for the note all the way from PNG.

  2. Yes, indeed; your real home is with Christ wherever He has planted you. One of the things I have learned as I age is that a key to being at peace is to be flexible. For someone who likes order and plans to go just so, this has been a lesson that has taken me long to learn. I am convinced that God placed your Dad in my life to help me, as he is so wonderful when things don’t go according to plan. Humor and flexibility can go a long way in this life:)…and you have both, dear son.
    We miss you, for sure, but circumstances change everywhere. When and if you ever come “home”, it will be different: people marry, people move, people are born, and some pass on. Your surroundings change, too, with new parking lots built where there were once fields, new businesses going in.
    Love where you are, for if you live to be old and grey-haired, when this life is near the end, you will realize that it is the journey that is to be treasured, not only the destination. Love.

  3. Alan, this is nicely written. I think this is the only way to live, looking forward but remembering the past. Appreciating what was, accepting that what was may come back again but allowing God to guide the future as he did the past and is doing in the present. I know countless people who fear the future and cling to the past. They talk and live the past and yet are hardly living in the present. What kind of impact are they making in the world with this kind of life style? You are making an impact where you are. The past has helped form you into the thoughtful, purposeful, and loving person you are…just imagine what the future will do!

  4. The very night you wrote this, dear brother, I could find no moon in sight. How good of you to have brought it to us.

    As they say: Not all those who wander are lost.

  5. Sue – so glad to hear you got the note – I hope it didn’t take to long making it to you!

    Amanda and Ma – thanks – when I’m with you, I certainly feel like I’m home. :)


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