I realized that it's been a while since I've shared about what my hopes are for Tea with Tolkien and how I hope to serve you, my dearest reader!, so I wanted to take a few moments to write it all out for you...
A little bit about me. I'm Kaitlyn and I’m a Catholic convert, wife, mom, writer & creator, drinker of coffee and tea, and reader of Tolkien. Side note: I was also voted Catholic Hipster Mom of the Year on Twitter and you betta believe that’s the best made-up internet award I’ve ever received so of course I’m going to tell you guys about that (hahahaha!). I’m from Phoenix, Arizona where I was born & raised but am living now in Indiana with my husband and our three babies and we very much love it here. It reminds me of Ithilien.
Now back to Tea with Tolkien.
I want this to be place where we can talk about how we can better ourselves and our own world by embracing the spirit of Middle-Earth and carrying it into our own lives - in the simplest ways.
We’ve already been doing this for about a year and a half, and I'm blessed to see that our community is growing and growing!
So my hope for Tea with Tolkien is to create a place for you to come, have a cup of tea or coffee, and to be inspired and edified as we chat about Tolkien together.
We don't have to be great warriors or counted among the wise to make a difference, and maybe that’s the most important thing we can learn from Tolkien.
He chose the humblest, simplest characters to be the heroes of his story.
And in their pride, the villains of Tolkien's works overlooked the power of the small, weak, and humble -- and this was their downfall.
I think of this quote from The Council of Elrond, “This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great.”
We are the Shire-folk and this is our hour!
When we study Tolkien, we enter into a world woven together by the Truth of the Gospel. We see ourselves mirrored in his fairy-stories. We experience the triumph of his eucatastrophe as it points to the Resurrection, the greatest Eucatastrophe.
In becoming like Hobbits, I don't necessarily mean we have to stop wearing shoes and eat second breakfast everyday-- although those things are great!
But what I mean is that we can become poor for the sake of our Quest like Frodo, we can accompany our loved ones as they carry their Burdens like Samwise...
And there are even so many non-Hobbit characters in Tolkien's Middle-Earth that we can be greatly encouraged and inspired by. Even the "villains" have so much to teach us!
So I'd say that I'm here to point you to Tolkien, because Tolkien points you to Truth & Beauty in a way that only a fairy-story can. I'm not an expert or anything great. I'm not Gandalf or Elrond.
I'm more of a Samwise Gamgee and I'm here for you.
Many of you might have known that Tolkien himself was a thoroughly Catholic man, but for those of you who didn't know, I wanted to share this quote from one of his letters. It was written to a friend, Father Robert Murray, SJ, in 1953:
"...I think I know exactly what you mean by the order of Grace; and of course by your references to Our Lady, upon which all my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded.
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world.
For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism. However that is very clumsily put, and sounds more self-important than I feel.
For as a matter of fact, I have consciously planned very little; and should chiefly be grateful for having been brought up (since I was eight) in a Faith that has nourished me and taught me all the little that I know; and that I owe to my mother, who clung to her conversion and died young, largely through the hardships of poverty resulting from it."
So, as we journey through life together, I hope to continue to chat with you about simple ways we can grow in hobbitness and holiness, inspired by study of Tolkien and the Catholic faith he was so thoroughly steeped in. And of course, tea.
… and Lembas! And friendship and mushrooms! And beer, bacon, and balrogs! Galadriel, Eowyn, Luthien, Arwen, and Elbereth. Eucatastrophe, Magic versus the Machine, the gift of mortality, maybe even a little CS Lewis and GK Chesterton and St. Thomas Aquinas, Flannery O’Connor… all in good time.
Before I go, I just want to end with this quote -- my absolute favorite quote from The Fellowship of The Ring:
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater" - Haldir
So find what is fair. Cultivate it in your own life and share it with others.
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." - Colossians 3:12
I just want to encourage you to embrace these virtues and hopefully be inspired by our beloved hobbits as you’re doing whatever you’re doing today and everyday.