Category Archives: Literature

Aragorn: The Servant Leader

Hello, readers, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!!  We had some crazy, Nebraska wind today and a bit of hail.  I happen to like storms, so I was quite happy.  Also, I have my first Aragorn post written!  It took me longer than I expected, but here we are.  If I have more to say (and I haven’t bored y’all out of your minds) at the end of March, I’ll let it spill over into April. 🙂  Let me know what you think!

One of my favorite things about Aragorn, and one that came to mind first when I wanted to write about him, was his example of servant leadership.  Because the greatest leader really is a servant.

Jesus is, and always will be, the best example of a leader; and He made himself a servant.  The story of Jesus washing His disciples feet comes to mind quickly.  Washing feet was a job for the lowest servant, but Jesus chose it, and told his disciples to do the same.  In Philippians it says:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!”

It’s obvious that Aragorn’s goal in The Lord of the Rings is to claim the kingship of Gondor: he is the heir to the throne, and he knows it.  Aragorn is the rightful king and a born leader–but he knows what being a leader means.  And part of leading is putting your followers before yourself.

I especially loved the way Tolkien depicted him as a healer.  Caring for the wounded is often portrayed as the job of those who were too weak to fight, but Aragorn’s healing powers came with physical strength, which fascinates me.  I think the idea of a king being a healer is such a powerful one.  (We’ll discuss the whole kingship thing in another post, so more on this later. 😉 )

The wounded are always sent to Aragorn, and he never refuses the job.  It’s most obvious in The Return of the King, at the Houses of Healing.  But really, Aragorn is serving quietly throughout the trilogy.  In The Two Towers, Gimli insists on riding with the others, despite being wounded in the latest battle.  He claims the wound is only a scratch and doesn’t matter.  Aragorn responds “I will tend it, while you rest,” (page 532).  It took me a while to realize that this implies Aragorn would not be resting.  And you see the same scenario through all three books, from Frodo’s wound after Moria to the Houses of Healing.

I also appreciate how raw and how real Tolkien’s work was.  As much as you can tell Aragorn loves being a leader, Tolkien portrayed how leading can be a burden as well.  At the end of The Fellowship of the Ring and the beginning of The Two Towers it’s especially obvious.  You can see that Aragorn doesn’t see himself as qualified to take Gandalf’s role, and feels so lost without him.  I pity him, honestly.  Without Gandalf to guide Frodo, Aragorn feels responsible for helping him, and therefore taking on part of the responsibility of carrying the Ring–he literally has the fate of kingdoms on his shoulders.

But leading the fellowship after Gandalf’s death was Aragorn’s choice in the first place, which brings us back to what I said earlier–he knows he’s a leader.  Literally his first words after Gandalf’s fall are, “Come! I will lead you now!” (The Fellowship of the Ring, page 371)

And there’s no dispute–the fellowship knows he’s the one qualified to lead them.

Strider

It’s honestly hard to remember my sad life before I read The Lord of the Rings.

But I do recall entreating a friend of mine not to tell me any spoilers, as I was about to start The Fellowship of the Ring.  She started listing off Tolkien’s lovely names instead and gave me a whole string of them, adding, as if as an afterthought, “And Strider.  You’ll like Strider.”  I was rather annoyed at the time, as it gave away that this Strider person was good and likable–as I guess I just gave away for you, sorry–but it turned out to be quite the prophecy, as Aragorn has since grown to become my favorite character out of all the stories I’ve ever heard.

Right from the get-go, he’s been my favorite.  Middle Earth is peopled with beautiful, amazing, relate-able heroes–there is stiff competition.  But since before I even started reading The Two Towers, Aragorn has been my favorite.

And. . . (drum-roll please) today just so happens to be his birthday–March 1st.  I was late posting for it last year, so I’m making up this month.  I’m going to do a series of posts through March about why I love him.

I listed most of the reasons in last year’s post, but now I’ll be expounding on them a little more.

They will be over-thought and geeky–fair warning.  But I think they’re the sort of thing I like to read, and perhaps someone else enjoys that sort of thing too.  If not, I’ll have fun writing them. 😉

His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud.  A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heart of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits. (177)
-“The Fellowship of the Ring”by J.R.R. Tolkien

My thoughts on Halloween, and something new

Our family doesn’t celebrate Halloween, and has not for years.

We haven’t gone trick-or-treating since the time I discovered my passion for stories and costumes.  While I’ve sometimes felt disappointed about not participating in such a popular holiday (certain aspects of which would be right up my alley), I think my parents are right in deciding to do other things.

I don’t want to offend anyone who does celebrate Halloween, and I  don’t blame you.  Halloween is fun, you get free candy, and some people come up with really neat and truly beautiful costumes.  Halloween can be fun, and it can be done well.

But we don’t celebrate it, as so many people use it as a way to emphasize–and even celebrate–what’s dark and ugly.

Starting about last Halloween, some Halloween decorations started to remind me of villains in The Lord of the Rings, A Christmas Carol, and other stories I love.  I began to wonder how I felt about this, and why I watch The Hobbit but don’t celebrate Halloween.  I began to realize this year that Halloween puts emphasis on villains, and ugliness.  Whereas, these stories I loved rather celebrated the good.  While someone dressing up like a Ringwraith would look a whole lot like the Halloween costumes I don’t appreciate, there’s a difference between having a holiday to celebrate ghosts, and liking a story that contains similar elements, which are portrayed as bad.

So.  All this to say: I want to try something new.

I came to the conclusion recently that costumes are cool, and Halloween can’t have all of them.  So I’m going to pick a day this spring that Little Sister and I are going to wear costumes instead, and I want to invite you to do it with me.  I’m not thinking anything fancy–probably just hanging out at a local park.

Any Omaha people interested?  If you are, would the last week of May, or the first week of June work better for you?  Sometime Saturday, or a weekday afternoon?  I want your opinion!

More ramblings, starring Reese

Do you remember when I did the Describe Tag, and asked you all to help me name one of my characters?  Well, I’ve officially named her Reese Shattercane.

I actually named her shortly after I did the tag, but forgot to post again.  I recently remembered I promised to follow up with you guys, so. . . here we are.  Her name is Reese.

Sorry I’m late!

I just finally got a feel for the plot of her story, which I’m excited about.  It’s not very high on the “What To Write Next” list, but I still like playing with it, so it’s fun to know where I’m going!

 

In other news, I bought my first piece of Star Wars fan gear last month: Jyn’s stardust necklace (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).

(Apparently the fans have dubbed it Jyn’s “Kyber necklace”, but I have been calling it her “stardust necklace” to myself since I left the theater, and I prefer that. 😉 )

My Lord of the Rings gear is getting excessive (as in, two shirts, a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a Galadriel crown), but this was my first Star Wars piece.

 

I posted about reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream recently, if you remember.  Well, I read The Tempest today, and it’s giving Julius Caesar (my favorite Shakespeare play) a real run for its money.

“My library was dukedom large enough. . .”

-The Tempest, Dover Thrift edition, page 6

Shakespeare was a master!

Happy Wednesday (because it is one), my amazing readers!

words

She knelt on the floor beside their bed, hearing her sister’s even breathing just above her.  She leaned forward against the carpet and whispered a prayer into the darkness.

“I have no words to describe You.”

Maybe, she thought as she stood up and crawled under the warm blankets, when I get to heaven, I’ll find the words.

And when she realized that it was one of the most exciting ideas she’d had about heaven, she knew she was, and always would be, a writer.

Elsewhere

You all have asked so many great questions about Cat’s Forest already, but if you have any others, please make sure you comment them on this post, before next Saturday:

“Catania’s Forest” Behind-the-Scenes

I will try to get the Q&A post up soon after.  Try. . . *nervous laugh* 🙂

(My fingers just tired to type “Tyre” instead of “Try”.  I have ruined my own ability to type!)

Anyway, some beautiful posts have gone up elsewhere on the internet lately, so I wanted to do a post linking to a few other writers.

Why you need a reading plan & good books for a new year

To begin with, my Mom e-mailed me this amazing post last week, and I wanted to share it.  “A book can be your feelings pulsing through the veins of another”. . .  It’s beautiful.

Remember the days

This poem left me just about speechless.  It’s short and sweet, but still holds so much meaning.  It’s well written, and it’s so hopeful.  I have heard messages like this before that feel despondent and sad, so I loved the quiet reassurance that these words carried.

Scattered Scribblings

And last but not (at all) least, my lovely friend Savannah Grace just started a series about character building on her blog, “Scattered Scribblings”, linked to above.  I have read several of Savannah’s stories, and she possesses a real knack for characters.  I’m not joking, readers, they’re epic–so I would recommend all writers out there to visit her blog and check it out, at least until the series is over.  (I would recommend sticking around though, as it’s just a great blog!)  Click here for a link to her first post.

Happy reading, friends!

More ramblings (cause I’m still getting my act together), and happy new year!!

Happy New Year, my friends!

We’ve had three birthdays, New Years, and a Christmas party since I was here last, so the posting has slowed down.  I was going to post this yesterday, but Mom and the younger crew were watching The Sound of Music, so what could I do? 🙂  I’m hoping to post the behind-the-scenes for Cat’s Forest soon, but school just started, so we’ll see how fast I can move.

Technically, school started today, but all I had to do was lay around and read A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I find quite enjoyable.  I’m doing all Shakespeare for Great Books this year (YIPPEE!!).  I decided to try and read Midsummer in one day (because I’m crazy), and Mama let me only do that for school today (because she’s wonderful).  Shakespeare’s writing style is one of the most beautiful things that ever happened.

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows;
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in. . .” (20)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dover Publications, Inc.

In other news, I got all the geeky Middle Earth books for Christmas/my birthday, and I’m so happy!

I also got two other novels, so I’ve been mostly reading lately, and the written words have dropped significantly.  When I finish the five Christmas books I have left, I’m hoping to get back to my own stories–to be honest, I kinda’ miss them.

And (because random, silly Middle Earth pictures are apparently the thing right now), this is my favorite variation of this quote yet:

I’m loving this so much! 😉

Happy Thursday, my friends!

A post-Christmas post of ramblings

I should have realized how much Cat’s Forest would take over when I decided to post it almost everyday, in the busiest month of the year.  But I of course I didn’t.  Anyway, I didn’t post about Christmas much, except for my story.  I might do some deeper Christmas posts now, after the fact; but I think this was mostly a year of Catania, and that’s okay.

In the meantime, you should read this post that a fellow blogger of mine posted yesterday:

He’s Here: The Christ Candle ~ Ramblings of a Writer

This authoress has mastered the art of word-craft, and this post is simply beautiful.  The peaceful flow of the words is pleasant and calming, and it paints a crystal clear picture of the starry nightfall of the first Christmas.  You should read it.

 

Hopping down an unrelated bunny-trail, do y’all know about the whole “elf on a shelf” thing?  Well, my Mother found this, and I couldn’t help but share it:

So awesome, I really have no words.  I lost Santa elves about the time I found Middle Earth. 🙂

Merry Christmas, readers!!  Thanks for reading my rambles.

Catania’s Forest ~ Part Sixteen

I cannot believe this is the last part!  I had misgivings about posting this story, and I probably would have given up writing it if it weren’t for you guys.  But I’m glad I posted it, and I hope it blessed you.

I tried (without success) to make these last parts shorter, but looking back, I’m glad you get all of this at once.

I’m hoping to post a Behind-the-Scenes sometime after the new year.

Catania’s Forest: The Little Drummer-boy in Narnia ~ Part Sixteen

~*~

Lythia looked up at Catania and smiled. The firelight gleamed in her chestnut eyes, shining under the shadow of the brown hood that covered her hair.

“Greetings, Cat.”

Catania felt she should kneel, but somehow she could not. She could never have explained why she was suddenly frightened, but fear tightened on her heart and she trembled.

“I don’t understand,” she said softly.

I do not understand fully yet,” Lythia answered.

“But. . .” Catania stopped. She took a step nearer, cautious as a wary doe. She looked down at the tiny, pink face nestled against Lythia’s faded red kirtle. The sight made her breath catch in her throat. How many years has it been since I saw a child?

“Is he here to deliver us from the humans?” she whispered.

Continue reading Catania’s Forest ~ Part Sixteen

Catania’s Forest ~ Part Fifteen

Catania’s Forest: The Little Drummer-boy in Narnia ~ Part Fifteen

~*~

“Can you point me back to the city?” Jéru asked. “I don’t know which way’s east anymore.”

“You shouldn’t have come out here,” Catania said. “You could have lost yourself, or been attacked by something. You’re unarmed.”

“I had to tell you, Tanya,” he said seriously. His faced darkened then. “Which way’s east?”

Catania pointed, and watched as he swung himself out of the ditch–as easily as only an elf could–and made off through the forest. Catania pulled herself up onto one of the great, gnarled roots of her tree and sat there looking out at the palely lit forest.

Her thoughts were muddled. She suddenly realized her heart was pounding. I have to see. She knew it was the only way to calm her fears and find peace in her shocked mind. She slipped inside her cave again and snatched her bow and quiver, tugged on her bracers, and secured her makeshift shoes. North of the city gates, she told herself as pulled her door shut and scrambled out of the trench. The forest looked so different by this light that she stood still a moment to get her bearings. She glanced upwards, searching for the moon, but the leafy canopy masked it.

Continue reading Catania’s Forest ~ Part Fifteen