Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took: Joy Through Tears
Merry and Pippin are undeniably the trouble makers in the Fellowship. They're always laughing, always joking, always looking for the fun in life. Before they set out on their journey, their thoughts mostly consist of food and adventure. Well, I'm sure they had a little more to their personalities than that, but that was the face they presented to the public.
On the Fellowship's perilous journey, Merry and Pippin are often scolded for their flippant attitudes, especially Pippin. They are young, naive, and a little daft, more often than not. This leads them to make several mistakes that cause the Fellowship more difficulty than necessary.
As the journey continues, Merry and Pippin both begin to mature in their own ways. They see a darker side of the world than they'd ever imagined, and they are both exposed to the horror and trauma of war. As a result, they both become more serious and level-headed. However, even during the darkest, most terrifying moments they face, neither Merry nor Pippin lose their joy. When times are tough, they learn to be serious, but they never become depressed, bogged down by all the sorrow around them. They are attentive and helpful, and they do not make light of the situation in an inappropriate way. They just keep their spirits up so that they can be above and beyond the call of duty.
This is a great lesson for anyone. When times are hard, and it seems like it will never end, we, as Christians, can turn to Jesus for joy. Not happiness, because happiness comes as a result from good things happening to you. But with Jesus, we can put our hope in Him for the good things to come: the promise that someday we will be with him. Merry and Pippin get their upbeat attitudes from their sparkling and irrepressible spirits, but not everyone has that. For those who put their faith in Jesus, our joy comes from hope.
The enmity between the Elves and the Dwarves has lasted since the middle of the First Age. Even during the creation of Middle Earth, Eru (Middle Earth's version of God) predicted that the dwarves would always be at odds with the elves, and men as well. There's a reason for that, but for the sake of time I won't go into it here! ;)
The point is, the elves and dwarves have been at each other's throats for a long time. Legolas and Gimli don't get off to a good start. Legolas's father, Thranduil, imprisoned Gimli's father, Gloin years before the story starts. And in Legolas's eyes, Gimli's father was a troublesome invader who risked the safety of the elves by awaking the dragon, Smaug. Their rivalry is instantaneous.
As they Fellowship begins their journey, the two of them are constantly arguing. Not in a playful, bantering way, but in a genuine I-hate-your-guts way. It's distracting to the rest of the company, and it hinders their ability to work together for the good of the team.
But a trip to Lothlorien begins to change both of them. Gimli finds himself awestruck by Galadriel, one of the oldest and wisest elves in Middle Earth. He is touched by her kindness to him. When she looks at him, she doesn't treat him badly because he's a dwarf. She treats him generously, just as she does the rest of the Fellowship, and even bestows him with the great honor of having three strands of her golden hair. (In case you don't know, that's a HUGE honor, but the story behind that is also too long to tell here.)
Galadriel set a good example for Legolas, and after this he becomes more open to Gimli. Gimli, too treats Legolas with a softer attitude. Before long, the two of them become fast friends. They are willing to put aside the squabbles of their ancestors and embrace friendship. They value each other for who they are now, not for their history. They no longer allow themselves to become carried away with insults and jabs. They still banter and compete with one another, but now in the spirit of brotherhood.
According to the appendices of the Lord of the Rings, their friendship was so great that eventually, when Legolas went across the sea to the Undying Lands, he took Gimli with him. Dwarves are not typically allowed to enter the Undying Lands, but for Gimli, they made an exception because of his great friendship with Legolas.
The lesson for us? We should be open toward one another. And by that I don't mean willing to spill our darkest secrets right away- I mean being willing to befriend one another and not be petty. Instead of getting caught up with stupid squabbles that might seem important at the time, we should focus on maintaining healthy relationships with each other. If that means losing an argument- or competition- from time to time for the sake of your friend, so be it. If that means humbling yourself and admitting that you might have been at fault, so be it. The result, (assuming the other person responds in kind), will be a lasting friendship free of strife and resentment.
By the time he comes to his senses, it is too late for him to apologize to Frodo. And, unfortunately, it is not long afterward that Boromir meets his tragic death. But in the brief time his alive after his attack on Frodo, we see how very repentant he is.
Repentance means that when you are doing something wrong, you A) realize it is wrong, B) stop doing that wrong thing, and C) make an effort to correct that wrong thing.
Boromir immediately tries to apologize to Frodo, though he doesn't know it is too late, and that the hobbit has already gone. He is ashamed at what he has done, and sets out in search of Frodo. When the Uruk Hai attack, Boromir fights valiantly and eventually gives up his life defending Merry and Pippin. As he lies dying, he confesses to Aragorn what he did, and tells him that Frodo has gone away. In his final moments, he makes sure that Aragorn knows that he is sorry. And, in Aragorn's eyes, Boromir dies a redeemed man.
This goes to show us that when we make a mistake and sin against God, no matter how great our sin, we need to repent. We are not beyond His power to save, and as Christians, it is our responsibility to apologize for our error, and attempt to make it better. We might not have the ability to fix ourselves, but He does. What matters is that we forsake our wicked ways and turn to God and the paths of righteousness.
Gandalf: Wisdom and Discretion
As a wizard, the oldest, and most powerful person in the Fellowship, Gandalf has a tough job. Others are going to turn to him in times of trouble, even if he doesn't know the way or the answer. He does an outstanding job of it, and to my knowledge, never fails the company.
Gandalf leads with integrity and wisdom. He knows when to reprimand, when to encourage, when to comfort, and when to... well, shake a person up, for lack of a better term. He is very patient with the more trying members of the Fellowship, (namely Merry and Pippin, and sometimes Legolas and Gimli), and with lots of other annoying people (like Denethor). He always seems to know the best course of action because he takes the time to think things through. He has lived for hundreds of years, and thus he is able to make informed decisions based on the way he knows the world works. He is humble, yet also commanding, when he needs to be. He was willing to be under the leadership of Steward Denethor, but when Denethor failed his people, Gandalf was ready to step in and make things right.
We could all stand to learn a thing or two from Gandalf. He is a great rolemodel for people young and old.
Arwen, a high-ranking elf, is in love with Aragorn, a human. This is generally frowned upon in both societies, with only a few rare exceptions. It is very difficult for her and Aragorn to be together, yet they never give up hope. Even when all the odds seem to be against them, Arwen and her lover remain faithful to one another. Aragorn had an opportunity to leave her for an easier woman, Eowyn of Rohan, but he never strayed from his true love. Arwen, I'm sure, had plenty of potential suitors from among her own people, but she never wavered in her love for Aragorn. She waited patiently for him until he returned for her, and then they were wed and lived a long and happy live together as King and Queen of Gondor.
This can serve as a lesson to us in two ways: one- as a good example in how to treat our spouses/fiances, and two- as a way to treat our relationship with Christ.
We, the Church, are the "bride" of Christ. Not in a romantic way, but in a spiritual way. We are promised to him, and as such we should not be unfaithful by polluting ourselves with the ways of the world. We should refrain from indulging in wicked activities, keeping ourselves pure for Him. We should not stoop to living petty, frivolous, wasteful lives, completely given over to things that will only last as long as we live. After we die, the things of this world will pass away, and if everything we ever held dear was here, then we will have nothing. If we make Jesus our treasure and our ambition, then in the end, our reward will be the best of all. If we make God the desire of our hearts, then we will not be disappointed. This is why it is so important for us to maintain our fidelity to Jesus, our Savior- the one who is worth everything in the end.