Nightfall and Vows

Here's what caught me tonight reading Fellowship of the Ring:

"On [the Ring-bearer] alone is any charge laid... the others go with him as free companions to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road."

"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens," said Gimli.

"Maybe," said Elrond, "but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall."

"Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart," said Gimli.

"Or break it," said Elrond. "Look not too far ahead! But go now with good hearts!"

Oaths do make and break hearts. They bind, and sometimes the binding is what breaks us most deeply. But we cannot live without them.

My family revolves around vows -- my parents' wedding vows, the vows taken at the adoption of my siblings, my vows of church membership. There are other, more implicit, more subtle vows that bind just as much. I'm a student by choice, so I work hard on academics. I'm a sister. I'm an officer in a club. I'm a friend.

And I'm still grateful for people who have made me be intentional about what I bind myself to. A lot of it went on as I grew up and Mom gave me more influence in what I studied. I remember a lot of that going on freshman year: the ones who made me think about communion, the ones who made me think about friendship, the ones who made me think about academics.

For all the ones who said, "What do you really want? Is this what you really want?" and then looked at me as I said, "Yes."

One of the songs made for the Fellowship of the Ring movie has the catching line,

May it be
When darkness falls
Your heart
Will be true.

May it be indeed.

What other than a vow to walk in the darkness would ever press us onward when we do finally see nightfall?

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