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Episode 16: To Morning Through the Shadows (On Good Friday, Miscarriage, and The Light We Cannot See)


In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.

Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,

above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.

- The Return of the King, The Tower of Cirith Ungol

The Sun is will rise again, even though we cannot see it.

Hey, everyone. I’ve missed you all! I hope you’re doing well.

I wanted to begin this episode with a little personal note and also just let you know that this will probably be a sadder episode, we’ll be talking about loss, and so if you aren’t up to that and might like to skip this episode, I understand.

About two weeks ago, I learned that I was pregnant, but unfortunately the baby was lost to miscarriage. And so I’ll be taking a break from most of things over here at Tea with Tolkien for a bit. I had been planning to take a season break over the summer while we move and then come back in September, so I’ll just be starting that break a bit sooner than planned. I might hop on one or two more times before we move in the end of May, but I just wanted to say, I don’t think I’ll be here every Tuesday for a while.

I’ve really appreciated all of the kind notes and prayers from so many of you over the past few weeks. I’ve tried to respond to all of the messages but I don’t think I’ve been able to get to each one, but I hope you know how much they mean to me. So thank you.

I haven’t really known what to say about my miscarriage because I don’t have anything inspirational or happy to say, and grief is just so incredibly awkward.  But anyway. I had planned to talk about this poem as well as the Eucatastrophe of Easter this week and the next, and to be honest I was so looking forward to talking about these things and I felt that they were applicable to the time of year we’re in right now, so here we are.

This quote from The Fellowship popped into my head:

“I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.” - The Fellowship of the Ring, The Shadow of the Past

This sort of sentiment shows up many times throughout their quest, this sort of holding on to the light, knowing it’s still there even when you can’t see it. Frodo and Sam are carried through their darkness, knowing that somewhere there is light. And many of these quotes, cheesy as it may sound, are carrying me through. I know there is light and beauty, I know that darkness is passing.

I know that my children are so loved, my friends are so loved, I know that in my loss there are others experiencing such great joy. And while that sometimes leaves me feeling a wave of bitterness, lately it’s been filling me with so much peace and happiness it feels like my heart is bursting. Maybe that’s Grace. To know that love still exists and that life carries on, new life is beginning everywhere I turn, this brings me a little bit of strength.

“They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor… For a while they stood there, like men on the edge of a sleep where nightmare lurks, holding it off, though they know that they can only come to morning through the shadows.” - The Two Towers, The Passage of the Marshes

Tonight we enter into the darkness of Good Friday as we remember Christ crucified, Christ dead in the grave. We weep with his Mother and all of his friends and we weep for ourselves: He is gone and we miss him. I tried to visit him in Adoration and the chapel was locked. I tried to find him in the Tabernacle but it was empty. I tried to look to his likeness in the crucifix but it was covered. He has been taken from us. He has been taken from me -- by my very own sins, he was taken from me.

I received some more sad news concerning my miscarriage today and my heart ached to fall before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, but He is gone.

And while we know soon, so soon, He’ll be back, we still might find ourselves in darkness buried deep. And it hurts, it hurts so much

I just wanted to tell you it’s okay to sit in the darkness. It’s okay to feel this pain. It’s good to rest in this grief.

Easter is coming, but it isn’t here yet. There is light beyond the darkness and even though we cannot see it now, I hope you know it’s there. I know it’s there.

“‘Mordor!’ he muttered under his breath. ‘If I must go there, I wish I could come there quickly and make an end!’ He shuddered.” - The Taming of Smeagol

We as a society are so uncomfortable with grief or sadness, so eager to rush in and fix it. But there is so much beauty in it, there so many ways for us to draw closer to Christ and our Blessed Mother. We distract ourselves or we skip it entirely and just go straight to Easter morning. But we can’t come to Easter without the Crucifixion.

This quote is from The Two Towers movie so I know it’s not exactly canon but I wanted to read it anyway:

“I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”

So what do we do if Easter morning comes and we are still broken?

I don’t know, I don’t know.  But if we can only hold onto our plain hobbit-sense, if we can hold onto our hope even as it dying, the sun will rise again. I guess that’s just what I wanted to say.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.”

The one who sat on the throne[f] said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:4-5


Is everything sad going to come untrue?

Behold, I make all things new.

Episode 17: Reading the Silmarillion: An Introduction with John Carswell

Episode 17: Reading the Silmarillion: An Introduction with John Carswell

Episode 15: All that is Gold Does Not Glitter, Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost