Another Unexpected Journey with J. R. R. Tolkien

April 30th, 2020

Hobbits and elves, humans and dwarves, trees with personality and the most famous ring of all time…. through his stories, JRR Tolkien has taken generation after generation on countless fantastical journeys to far-off places, full of magic and mystery. What’s more, Tolkien has imbued his stories with the beauty of the Christian faith, through careful allegory and metaphor. 

In this hour-long session together, we read and discussed one of Tolkien’s lesser-known stories, “Leaf by Niggle.” You thought there was nothing more humble than Hobbiton, but through this brief tale of a regular man’s begrudging kindness and yes, another unexpected journey, we saw how even the most humble of human endeavors can leave an enormous, magical impact. 

Like all of his works, Tolkien guides us into the mysteries of Christian faith through allegory and imagistic suggestion. These are the most enjoyable of stories, the ones that surprise us and leave us asking “what could that symbol mean?” During our time together, we unpacked the layers of symbols in this short little story and wade into the picture of Christian faith Tolkien paints for us: How are we to spend our lives? How are we to treat our neighbors? What does it mean to prepare for a journey?

Each student received a copy of the story, “Leaf by Niggle” when they registered, and were required to read the story beforehand.

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