In A Short Cut To Mushrooms Frodo’s desire to evade the Black Riders leads he and his companions directly to another danger: Farmer Maggot! All the while Samwise Gamgee illustrates faith and faithfulness in this chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings.
Short Cuts Make Long Delays
The morning after their encounter with Gildor and the Elves finds our hobbits enjoying a breakfast left behind by the former. The plan for the day is to “walk to Bucklebury as quickly as possible.” Frodo is certain that they will indeed see more of those Black Riders, and he desires to minimize the risk with a shortcut. This bright morning had not banished the fear of pursuit, and now he wishes to deliver his friends safely to Crickhollow, and from there to immediately leave for his quest alone.
‘It is one thing to take my young friends walking over the Shire with me, until we are hungry and weary, and food and bed are sweet. To take them into exile, where hunger and weariness may have no cure, is quite another – even if they are willing to come.’
The Lord of the Rings, A Short Cut To Mushrooms, pp. 86-87
Faith Mushrooms Into Faitfulness
As Frodo is in the midst of this inner-dialogue he looked over to Sam only to discover that Sam was watching him. “I’m leaving the Shire as soon as ever I can,” he said. “Very good, sir!” Sam replied. Frodo understands that Sam has already included himself in that plan, and that he is indeed aware that it is very likely neither will ever come back.
‘If you don’t come back, sir, then I shan’t, that’s certain,’ said Sam. ‘Don’t you leave him! they said to me. Leave him! I said. I never mean to. I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon; and if any of those Black Riders try to stop him, they’ll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with, I said.’
Ibid., p. 87
Sam Gamgee is illustrating to us what faith and faithfulness look like in the real world – even if that world is Middle-earth. The Elves seemed to know that Frodo is going away, and so they charged Sam to go with him and stay by his side; care for him. Sam does not know where that path (Paths! Refer to the the previous episode: Three Is Company) will lead. This is why he resorts to the hyperbolic, “to the Moon!”
Sam walks by faith, not by sight. Faith is of things hoped for a confidence, of matters not seen a conviction (Heb. 11:1 YLT). Faith mushrooms into faithfulness; and this is visible, as the apostle John wrote to Gaius:
Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God.
3 John 1:5-6 NLT
A Short Cut To Mushrooms
This shortcut leads to Bamfulong, the home of old Farmer Maggot – another terror of Frodo Baggins. It turns out to be a delightful little adventure which we wish had been included in the Peter Jackson films. Farmer Maggot is a warm, open, kind, and giving person – unless, of course, you are pilfering his mushrooms! And Frodo regrets never having known this of him:
I’ve been in terror of you and your dogs for over thirty years, Farmer Maggot, though you may laugh to hear it. It’s a pity: for I’ve missed a good friend.
The Lord of the Rings, A Short Cut To Mushrooms, p. 95.
On The Secret Fire Podcast we travel chapter-by-chapter and book-by-book through J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth viewing it through Christian lenses. We invite you to join us each week as we continue the adventure on the Arkenstone server in Lord Of The Rings Online. We meet at the Three Farthing Stone in the Shire.
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