Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gollum Tears and Dragon Skin

I've been thinking about Gollum today (of Lord of the Rings "My Precious-s-s-s" infamy). I haven't read the books in a long time, nor watched the movies in a while for that matter, but I recently pulled out the theme music from the movies. I wanted to hear "Into the West" which I hadn't listened to since Keren's funeral. It's one of those songs that I've always associated with Keren.

Anyway, listening to that cd (Return of the King soundtrack) led me on to all of the movie soundtracks and this morning I was struck by the words of "Gollum's Song" at the end of The Two Towers. The song is sung with an aching, longing, lonely voice. You feel the angst of Gollum and you hurt for him; he's been so abused! But the more you listen to the words you also realize that he's brought much of his pain on himself. Here's a taste:
So in the end
I will be - what I will be
No loyal friend
Was ever there for me

Now we say - goodbye
We say - you didn't try...

These tears you cry
Have come too late
Take back the lies
The hurt, the blame!

And you will weep
When you face the end alone
You are lost!
You can never go home
It's so sad; he's been betrayed and no one loves him. But is that really true? Or is it his perception? If you know the story, you know that the hobbit Frodo takes Gollum under his wing and tries to give him the path to restoration. We see glimpses of the Gollum he could be/once was, but in the end, Gollum chooses his personal desires, addictions and his pain over the chance to be restored and renewed...and find ones who love him....

The older I get the more I meet people who are caught in Gollum's trap. They want to be loved--they long for it and need it (obviously we can't exist without it!). But they want it on their own terms, by their own definition as to how it should work. And they aren't willing to sacrifice anything to get it; there's no giving up of certain selfish desires. And so they are stuck, and cry out like Gollum that they are betrayed and forsaken and "can never go home." And yet you can see that in the end the choice to be rejected is their own. There was still the chance to accept hard love, but it was considered too high a price compared to giving up their own perceptions of what love should be.

There are some would-be Gollums I've tried to help...and others, regrettably, that I've ignored, given up on completely, or had to step away from for fear of getting sucked into their black hole of self-absorption. It's so hard to know when to let go of them, knowing they will forever think they have been rejected, and never know they could have been transformed.

Of course, I probably shouldn't leave this yet.... How many times have I shed Gollum-tears of self-pity? I'm alone, no one understands me, etc., etc., etc. But each time I've known that it's really a lie. I am not alone; God is with me and He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). I am not misunderstood or unloved; Christ can sympathize with my weaknesses because he is "one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). I have only to believe this, to know that this is true.... But that is the hardest part in the end because it means I have to let go of me and be enveloped by Him.

We've been reading C. S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with the kids and just finished the part where Eustace is un-dragoned by Aslan. Eustace tries to peel off the dragon skin on his own, but he can't get it all off no matter how many times he tries. Finally Aslan says, "You will have to let me undress you." Eustace describes it:

"The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off..." When Aslan removes the skin he catches Eustace up in his paws and throws him into the water of a well. Eustace said, "It smarted like anything, but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious...." and Eustace was a boy again, but the "dragon" in his nature, the selfish peevishness, was removed. He wasn't perfect from that moment on, but he was transformed and progressing. He'd let the Lion peel off the dragon.

It really comes down to a choice in the end. Do I want to be like Gollum, lost in my self, grasping at a gold ring until I am lost in fire? Or do I want to be like Eustace and let Christ peel off my dragon skin, leaving me vulnerable, but then throwing me into the excruciatingly painful, joyful effervescence of his never-ending love?


  1. Good thoughts, Schwester. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Good thoughts, well written. Thanks.