I am taking part in a study group about Laudato Si, the encyclical of pope Francis. We use a study guide from CAFOD, a catholic aid agency. I find the meetings very inspiring. Here is a short video clip:
The movie is a call for action, but this has a spiritual basis. The big theme of Laudato Si is our relationship with the Earth, our common home. This starts with love and care for the Earth.
In the evenings, I am once again travelling with Frodo and his companions in The Lord of the Rings. Reading the story about their visit to the elven queen Galadriel, I noticed how natural it is for the elves to be one with nature. The travelers get cloaks, and when Pippin asks if they are magic cloaks, the elf says he doesn’t know about that, but:
They are elvish robes certainly, if that is what you mean. Leaf and branch, water and stone: they have the hue and beauty of all these things under the twilight of Lórien that we love; for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make.
In The Lord of the Rings, the elves are embodied melancholy. Everything about them emanates that their days in Middle Earth are numbered. The forest is disappearing rapidly into the furnaces of Saruman, where machines are made for war: “He has a mind of metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment.” The sound of steel on steel contrasts with the sweet tones of the song of Galadriel.
It reminds me of The Moorchild, one of my favorite books. Saaski, the protagonist, is a elven child who is changed for for a human child. In this book, elves are the creatures that people imagined in the Middle Ages: They caused diseases, abducted children and seduced humans with their haunting music. These wild and mischievous creatures with a hint of malice were strongly linked with nature. Saaski is afraid of iron for instance.
Whether they are spirits of nature or demigods, elves are “less interested in themselves than men are, and better at getting inside other things.” The elves talked so much to the trees that the trees started to talk back. That probably never happened to St Francis of Assisi, but his namesake does advise us to live elf-like:
If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously.
And, not to forget:
Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.
On that note, I want to end with an elven song:
Source picture: simaell.deviantart.com