The Shire

11:49 AM

     This blog must be prefaced with the admission that I am, for the umpteenth time, reading "The Lord Of The Rings". This confession will, assuredly, bring me much persecution that comes with the assumption that I am among the likes of those not far off from the Trekkie crowd; that I am probably a person who shows up at premieres wearing Hobbit feet covered in false hair; or listen avidly to the L.O.T.R. soundtrack with tears running down my face when Sam Gamgee´s theme plays; or the soft, melodic strings of Rohan make me just want to get out there and ride a dang pony! You may believe I am one of those who secretly studies Elvish in their spare time and inwardly believes that the age of men, has, yes, (oh, I did say it), come. 

    Still, I deny the majority of these unspoken accusations, although I feel your distant snickering far across the realms of the Internet. Yes, you. But in fact this secret obsession of mine is used as no more than a prologue and a useful analogy to this forthcoming blog.

     You see, the other day it suddenly dawned on me that working with Pastor Derek can oftentimes feel much like being under the intense supervision of Gandalf the Grey ( or perhaps, the White, just to please all you nerdy nerds out there who are reading this blog with immense satisfaction).  Besides his imposing height and occasional cheekiness, Derek possesses that particular quality of wisdom that is all too infrequent in this world of ours.

     It is said that J.R.R. Tolkein based his Hobbits on the inhabitants of the British Isles. If this is so, he portrayed them to perfection. I can quite easily attest that Fisherwick itself is jam-packed with these humorous entities who display Hobbit-like qualities to the nth degree. Physically they lack, or at least I hope they lack, the renowned furry feet, but to generalize further, the Nirish are a rather short race. My average height can seem quite towering when compared with many of the men-folk in Belfast. They are a small, freckled race with immensely courteous manners, bumbling, yet bubbly mannerisms, cheeky dispositions, ardent lovers of a good story, more than a little affectionate about a wee cuppa and a bickie, and bearers of the most stunning range of deep, sea blue eyes you´ve ever seen.

     And over them all, in this little world, reigns Gandalf.  Derek would describe himself as coming from a long line of hard working Ulster Scots, but his heart is truly bent towards this people, and when Derek speaks, people listen. It's not just because of his rather melodious baritone, matched with that rollicking, Irish lilt or any particular manner of face or form, but rather a depth of character and affection that seems to come from something higher than any of us. You seem to feel, when sitting with your fellow Hobbits all dressed in their Sunday best,  or with the musical Hobbits in the choir stalls, carefully and Presbyterially robed, that this man is rather fond of you. And if this man, this representative from the Man upstairs, is rather fond of you, then God must somewhere, in His deep, endless heart, be quite fond of you, too. Because of this, no matter what the criticism or uncomfortable nature of the topic, (if I hear another sermon on sex I think I´ll burst into fits of nervous laughter), people listen to this man and respect him in their sarcastic, unforgiving way. The Hobbits are never reticent in sharing an opinion, however, with comments like "Oh, Derek, the sermon was lovely, but the part about the....well, you know, that was a wee bit ticklish! Not that I haven´t thought about sex in those terms, but, oh! A wee cuppa!" And off the disquieted Hobbit will run, searching for relief in the amiable form of a cuppa tea.

     My internship is nearly finished and I have learned to love this friendly, yet distant people. They are a people used to many partings and don´t take kindly to strangers, but if you can get in the occasional sarcastic comment and never refuse a biscuit, then maybe, just maybe, they´ll let you have a little chink of their heart. They certainly will always have a chink of mine.

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  1. Rachel, your mother passed your blog on to me and I enjoyed reading this post. I love the Lord of the Rings analogies. You definitely had me spell bound with your comparison of Irish culture with the characters in this brilliant story.

    Having lived for almost eight years in Europe, I had the privilege of working with Irish people as well and chuckled at how you captured the essence of this amazing people. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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