We all need it, even if we fail to acknowledge the hand at the time or turn away from it later in life, we need the timely support of others in our life.
At a critical point in the final chapters of the Lord of the Rings Frodo’s burden of the ring has reached a near fatal weight. Sam is aware of his place in this epic journey, he is a support, the responsibility of the ring is not his, the weight of that burden clearly hangs around the neck of his friend. The other day over the Christmas break as my son watched the film again I was struck by Sam’s comment to Frodo, in that most desperate of moments as Frodo teetered on the cliff of despair about to give up the journey, Sam acknowledges he can’t carry the ring, but “I can carry you” and scoops up Frodo to continue the journey.
We are, at different times in our lives both a Frodo, in need of support and help on our journey and potentially someone’s Sam, a person in a position to offer support of a kind perhaps unaware of the critical impact it may have on the direction of the life we are supporting. It would be nice if in each instance there were clear signs of the need, the request for help, and even clearer signs of gratitude for the help received. I’ve found it is easier for those who provide assistance to revisit those waters if they have been thanked for their help in the past – not necessary for some but generally helpful for most. Similarly it would be easier if people would just ask for help when they need it, but that is not easy to do in a society bent on rewarding independence. Remember Frodo never asked Sam really for anything…,in fact on more than one occasion he turned on the very source of support and loyalty when he needed him most
Help, not replace
I particularly like to ponder the awareness of Sam in this instance and consider how it might apply in the life of family, friends, students, and colleagues. It bares repeating, Sam, blessed with greater physical strength at the moment, did not remove the ring and burden from Frodo. Rather, he provided the support he could, he did what Frodo, at that point, could not do and placed his friend in a position to succeed in his mission.
Let me do it for you…is not the same
Showing someone how, helping someone where they are and in the manner they need is not the same as taking over or doing for. One builds capacity, the other replaces, substitutes, and likely contributes to a failure to grow as a result of the absence of the test. I hope to learn better how to see the need and provide the appropriate assistance in a timely fashion. I hope too that I am better able to accept the support of others when offered, perhaps that is the true double sided edge of the Hobbit sword and this experience of Sam and Frodo.