Not All Who Wander Are Lost

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

In Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien demonstrates that no one is too small for destiny. The primary example of this is Frodo Baggins; he is the bearer of the ring but is not entirely sure what that means. Why was he chosen to bear the ring when it could have been someone with more power, such as Gandalf? Frodo says “‘I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.’” There is no reason why he should be the ring bearer as opposed to any other character, other than the destiny Tolkien created for him.


The Doors of Durin were sealed with an Elvish inscription: “Speak, friend, and enter.” Gandalf and Gimli, neither of whom qualifies as weak, were expected to crack this riddle. However, it was Merry, the last one would expect, to guess the password. Gandalf is surprised at his success: “I was wrong after all…and Gimli too. Merry, of all people, was on the right track….too simple for a learned lore-master in these suspicious days.” Though Merry does not play as large of a role as Frodo, Tolkien uses him to demonstrate that the internal strength of characters is not dependent on their title or status, but by the path before them.

Gandalf wrote in a letter to Frodo that said that “the crownless again shall be king.” This is reminiscent of the Beatitudes, specifically “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). This line is meant for Frodo, but it also relates to the story of Jesus, a king who chose to live meekly and inherited the earth. Jesus is not small or weak in the same way as Frodo or Merry, but all three established that meekness is not weakness; it is strength.

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