Thursday, April 18, 2013

Understanding Gandalf now

There is a scene in Fellowship of the Rings where, during the talk Gandalf has about responsibility and the dangers of carrying the One Ring to Frodo, after some thought, Frodo exclaims that he will do what's been asked of him, and not solemnly either. Rather, with some enthusiasm. In both book and film, Gandalf's reply is pretty much verbatim- "No matter how long I'm around your kind, you hobbits always manage to surprise me!"
When news hit about the bombing in Boston, there was one thing I was expecting all day, all night, all next day, and all next night to hear... yet I didn't hear it. People shaking verbal fists at God, demanding that He show Himself. For once, I heard nothing like that. What actually happened was something I rarely see during a tragedy on American soil- the community acting as one living, communicating, interacting body.
Sure, there's already a number of conspiracy theories flying around, everything from the predictable "Muslim terrorists" to "American government" being behind it, this happening, that happening, yet I haven't heard word of anyone chewing God out (or cussing Him out) for the three people who died and the couple dozen injured to any degree. Instead, I saw pictures and videos of people running right into the epicenter of the danger zone (without a second thought, it seemed) to help others out. Runners who griped that they weren't doing as good as they expected their selves to be found theirselves thankful that they had a chance to do something more meaningful and impacting than proving theirselves race-worthy. Restaurants opened to help the starving without charging anyone, volunteers freely gave blood (far more than the Red Cross had asked for), tents got set up for people to recover under and get looked at. Even atheist comedian Patton Oswalt never said anything denigrating God, but gave a word of inspiration (yep, that shows God can even use an atheist as a source of hope), and a memorable quote from Mr. Rogers became an instant viral pic on facebook to be shared, helping us through yet another dark time.
Yet, for once that I can recall, no one showed doubt against God, everyone was actually being God-like in character, helping people, encouraging one another, nothing negative (aside from the 3 casualties) showed up to show the ugly side of human nature.
Who knew my own home nation could do something to surprise this jaded American? Now I know how Gandalf the Gray felt when he told Frodo his surprise.

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