But the Nazgul turned and fled, and vanished into Mordor’s shadows, hearing a sudden terrible call out of the Dark Tower; and even at that moment all the hosts of Mordor trembled, doubt clutched their hearts, their laughter failed, their hands shook and their limbs were loosed. The Power that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was wavering, its will was removed from them; and now looking in the eyes of their enemies they saw a deadly light and were afraid.
Then all the Captains of the West cried aloud, for their hearts were filled with a new hope in the midst of darkness. Out from the beleaguered hills knights of Gondor, Riders of Rohan, Dúnedain of the North, close-serried companies, drove against their wavering foes, piercing the press with the thrust of bitter spears. But Gandalf lifted up his arms and called once more in a clear voice:
“Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.”
And even as he spoke the earth rocked beneath their feet. Then rising swiftly up, far above the Towers of the Black Gate, high above the mountains, a vast soaring darkness sprang into the sky, flickering with fire. The earth groaned and quaked. The Towers of the Teeth swayed, tottered, and fell down; the mighty rampart crumbled; the Black Gate was hurled in ruin; and from far away, now dim, now growing, now mounting to the clouds, there came a drumming rumble, a roar, a long echoing roll of ruinous noise.
“The realm of Sauron is ended!” said Gandalf. “The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest.” And as the Captains gazed south to the Land of Mordor, it seemed to them that, black against the pall of cloud, there rose a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky. Enormous it reared above the world, and stretched out towards them a vast threatening hand, terrible but impotent: for even as it leaned over them, a great wind took it, and it was all blown away and passed; then a hush fell.
When I first read through the Lord of the Rings, I was glad for the included dates (Bilbo and Frodo's birthday on Sept. 22nd, the Fellowship setting out Dec. 25th, etc.) because it gave a sense that the events really happened, and here are the dates they were on. I could celebrate and look forward to each date.
It wasn't until maybe a year or so after my first read of the Lord of the Rings that I began realizing the significance of some of the dates that Tolkien picked. For example, the day that the ring was destroyed, March 25th. I don't recall exactly which biography or book about Tolkien that I read this in, but I read that Tolkien picked March 25th, because there is an old Norse legend that the 25th of March was the date of the Resurrection of Christ. I thought this was pretty neat, and given that I knew that Tolkien was a devout Catholic, his choice of this date didn't surprise me and I never really thought that much more about it, until this morning.
I've been reading and following the blog "Moments of Grace" (formerly "The Road Through Middle-Earth") since Anne Marie started writing it and her writings have caused me to start looking at the works of Tolkien in a different, more spiritual way. (By the way, if you haven't visited her blog at all, you've been missing out on some wonderful meditations!) So naturally with this new mindset, when I realized that the Destruction of the Ring and the Feast of the Annunciation were on the same day, I began thinking of ways that the two events might be similar. (I did, and maybe I'll get to those later.)
It popped into my head this morning at Mass and I realized something extraordinary. Christ began His mission of saving us from sin and death with His birth on Christmas Day, the same day that the Fellowship set out on their mission of saving Middle-Earth from the Dark Lord Sauron. Christ died on Good Friday, begging the end of His mission, and completed it on Easter Sunday, rising from the grave and defeating death and sin for all eternity. The ring was destroyed on "Easter Sunday", defeating Sauron forever, freeing Middle-Earth from darkness and death.
When I realized that, something else clicked as well. A while back I'd figured out that from the middle of "The Fellowship of the Ring" when the Fellowship sets out from Rivendell, to near the end of "The Return of the King" when the ring is destroyed, only three months have passed by, which seemed really strange to me, considering how much action occurred in those three months! But when I looked at it from the perspective of the journey starting on Christmas and ending on Easter, that short time span made sense, it fit.
Thank you Anne Marie, for helping me to discover this! And a Happy End-of-the-Reign-of-Sauron-Memorial-Day to you all!
for the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever,
and the Dark Tower is thrown down.
Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard,
for your watch hath not been in vain,
and the Black Gate is broken, and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you all the days of your life.
And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed,
and he shall plant it in the high places,
and the City shall be blessed.
Sing all ye people!