Candlelight, Angel Light, Firelight and Starglow Better Is One Day Fire and Rain He's Gone Away Love Is Only Sleeping And I Love Her

Better Is One Day

By San Antonio Rose

12 Rethe
S.R. 1421

Fine man, crazy man, he can’t see.
Sound of the sunset, sound of the sea.
Why do the people stop and look at me?
Nobody here to see
That we are you, we are you,
She’s him, too, she’s him, too.
Fine man, crazy man, he can’t see,
Sound of the sunset, sound of the sea.

Frodo sighed.  The strange song was back.  Of course, it didn’t help that it applied to his situation so well.  The label of Mad Baggins had stuck firmly, and the lingering trauma of his ordeals only further alienated him from his fellow hobbits.  They loved Merry and Pippin.  They admired Sam.  He didn’t begrudge his companions that; they deserved praise for all they had done.  But Frodo?  If ever a hobbit was without honor in his own town, it was he.  There were times when he didn’t care.  But today it hurt deeply.  And tomorrow was the anniversary of his ill-fated meeting with Shelob.

It cannot be a part of me,
For now it’s part of you….

He started singing another nonsense song softly as he wandered down to the young mallorn in the Party Field.  A small group of hobbit children happened to pass him while he was singing; shrieking and giggling, they ran away, chanting something derisive about Mad Baggins.

It wasn’t his fault; he didn’t know what it meant, either.  It just came to him.

Frodo hurried toward the mallorn and leaned against it, clutching at the white gem given him by Queen Arwen.  Sighing a little, he sang softly to the only living being in the Shire (besides his three best friends) that could possibly understand:

Somebody stole their mind,
Somebody stole their mind.
They say they can’t find
What is kind,
What is kind.

Fine man, crazy man, he can’t see.
Sound of the sunset, sound of the sea.
Why do the people walk away from me?
’Cause nobody here wants to see
That we are you, we are you,
She’s him, too, she’s him, too.
Fine man, crazy man, he can’t see,
Sound of the sunset, sound of the sea.

Sound of the sunset, sound of the sea… Frodo turned west and let a silent tear roll down his cheek.  The Sea.  Somehow, deep down, Frodo knew that the only answers lay in the West.  He could find no real rest in the Shire.  Yet the Shire was home, and he loved it dearly.  How could he choose?

Frodo nestled himself between the roots of the mallorn and leaned his cheek against the trunk.  The scent of the silver bark and golden leaves reminded him of Lothlórien, and he wondered briefly how Celeborn and Galadriel were getting along.  Then suddenly, from somewhere on the field, the children’s voices floated back to him:

There’s a Baggins gone mad in the town tonight,
High on the hill lives a Baggins gone mad.
Mad Baggins, Mad Baggins, living under hill,
High on the hill lives a Baggins gone mad.

Frodo buried his face in his hands and wept.

13 Rethe

“Saaaam!” Rosie’s quavering voice called from the kitchen.

“Yes, love?” Sam called back from Frodo’s room, clutching Frodo’s hand as Frodo lay suffering from his yearly relapse.

Rosie’s voice slowly drew closer.  “I’ve dropped a pot, and I can’t reach it!  Oh, dear, I do hate to pull you away from Mr. Frodo….”

Frodo squeezed Sam’s hand and nodded slightly.

“I won’t be a minute, Mr. Frodo,” Sam reassured him, pulling away reluctantly.  He glanced around for something to give Frodo to hold instead of his hand, finally settling on the mithril flute that sat on a shelf above the bed.  “Comin’, Rosie!” he called as he pressed the flute into Frodo’s hand.  He hurried out of the room, and Frodo thought he heard him mutter something like, “Sure be glad when he’s born….”

Frodo chuckled a little in spite of himself.  He hadn’t been around many expectant couples, but the foibles of a pregnant hobbit-lass—even one as sweet as Rosie Gamgee—never failed to provide him with a little quiet amusement.  And the glow on Sam’s face when he talked about or looked at his lovely wife and the child they would soon have was worth any momentary inconveniences.  They were so blessed… so joyful….

The chuckle faded into a slight wistful smile.  Joy.  Joy came seldom to Frodo anymore.  He did have his good days, when it seemed that life in the Shire might return to normal for him after all.  But the bad days were getting more numerous; even if they weren’t as severe as this day or the ninth of Winterfilth, he still found himself sinking into depression or talking nonsense, like a gaffer with a fever, more and more often.  Sometimes he even envied Sam for having a normal life… but those periods never lasted very long.  Usually he was just grateful to have Sam and Rosie there to bring a little normalcy to his crumbling world.

A question he once asked Gandalf returned to haunt him.  Where will I find rest?

His thoughts turned toward the West, heeding the call of the Sea that had plagued him for so long.  But somehow he knew that even this was not the answer.  He did not desire the Sea itself, but that which lay beyond it; that much was clear.  Yet he knew that even there his wounds might never fully heal, and he could not remain there forever.  Mortal he was, and mortal he would remain, maimed and wounded to the very core.

Who will deliver me from this body of death?

The question startled Frodo—it seemed to come from outside himself, but it echoed his deepest doubts and fears.  His injuries and the influence of the Ring had caused him to descend into a kind of living death, and if he could not find healing within Eä, he would have to be healed elsewhere.  Yet no one knew for sure what the souls of the Secondborn faced when they crossed the outermost sea and left the circles of Arda forever.  Would he really find rest there?

Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.

Frodo truly began to wonder at this second external voice.  The statement was surely meant to answer his question, but who was it addressing?  He knew he ought to know, but the agony of his relapse had driven the knowledge away.

As his grip tightened on the mithril flute, he seemed to hear a song far off, yet drawing steadily nearer until he could tell that thousands of voices were singing:

Laid behind a stone,
You lived to die,
Rejected and alone.
Like a rose trampled on the ground,
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all.

And the memory of that far-off Yule came crashing back so intensely that Frodo almost felt that he was reliving it—the holy hush of the stable; the vision of Erubar on that cruel hill beaten almost beyond recognition; the astonishing fact that the One would send His only Son to go through that torture, worse even than Frodo had ever known, so that the Marring would be healed….

Frodo’s train of thought was interrupted as the song changed.

How lovely is Your dwelling place,
Oh, Lord Almighty;
My soul longs and even faints for You,
For here my heart is satisfied
Within Your presence,
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wings.

Better is one day in Your courts,
Better is one day in Your house,
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere.

Frodo remembered the light that seemed to flow from the holy Child and that was reflected in the choirs of Ainur that filled the skies over Bethlehem.  He had seen the light of Aman in Gandalf, Glorfindel, and Galadriel, but the light of the Timeless Halls was somehow brighter, greater, purer….  At the time, it had filled him with fear and shame, making him painfully aware of the burden he carried; but now the memory of it smote his heart with intense longing.  He hardly dared to hope that he might see that light again.

One thing I ask and I would seek:
To see Your beauty,
To find You in the place Your glory dwells….

My heart and flesh cry out
For You, the living God;
Your Spirit’s water to my soul.
I’ve tasted and I’ve seen,
Come once again to me;
I will draw near to You,
I will draw near to You.

To see the One enthroned in the Timeless Halls… the thought took Frodo’s breath away.  He realized that such a sight truly was the goal of his longing.  But he was broken in body and in spirit, and he was keenly aware of his shortcomings.  Could he truly receive fulfillment of his greatest desire?

And then the song changed again:

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken.
I’m accepted; You were condemned.
I’m alive and well, Your Spirit lives within me,
Because You died and rose again.

We will not forget your repentance.  Frodo suddenly remembered Erubar’s promise from the afternoon in the gardens of Imladris, and renewed hope began to rise within him.  Despite his pain, he joined the chorus ringing in his ears:

Amazing love, how can it be,
That You, my King, would die for me?

Sam stopped and stood in the doorway, shaking his head in astonishment.  He had no idea why Mr. Frodo was suddenly able to sing or where the song had come from—nor even truly what it meant.  Still, it made him glad to see Frodo’s sufferings eased, if only for a short while.

He stayed there watching as the moment passed and Frodo seemed to relax into sleep.  A spasm of pain crossed the elder hobbit’s face briefly, and his grip on jewel and flute tightened.  But that, too, passed, and as Frodo let the flute fall from his hand, he murmured sleepily:

“Farther up and further in….”

And with that, his breathing became deep and regular, and Sam knew that he was truly asleep.  Breathing a prayer of thanks, Sam retrieved the flute and replaced it on its shelf.

14 Rethe

Frodo awoke late in the morning and went into the kitchen, where Rosie and Sam cheerfully served him a hearty but late breakfast.  He ate as much as he could, although he was still suffering from the effects of his relapse.  The sight of his dearest friend and his radiant wife was bittersweet this morning, but not for the reasons it usually pained him; he knew that the decision he had to make would tear Sam apart, and he half hoped that he would not have to relinquish this domestic bliss in the home he had loved so long.  For a moment, his resolve wavered.  But one final snatch of song flitted through his mind:

The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

After breakfast, Frodo walked into his study, sat down at the desk, and pulled out a sheet of writing paper.  Taking a quill in his maimed hand, he began to write:

Dear Elrond,

            When do we sail?

The End

Credits (in order of appearance):

“Auntie’s Municipal Court” by the Monkees (words and music by Mike Nesmith)

“Tapioca Tundra” by the Monkees (words and music by Mike Nesmith)

Romans 7:24b (NKJV)

Augustine of Hippo, Confessions I.1

“Above All” by Michael W. Smith

“Better Is One Day” -- words and music by Matt Redman

“You Are My King (Amazing Love)” -- words and music by Billy James Foote

C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle

“This World Is Not My Home” -- words and music by J. R. Baxter, Jr.

The hobbit children’s taunt is adapted from the musical Blood Brothers, but I don’t know the name of the lyricist.

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