Show me the Road that I must walk...

Waitonga Path, Ruapehu, New Zealand

"The road goes on forever," said Pippen; "but I can't without our rest. It is high time for lunch." He sat down on the bank at the side of the road and looked away east into the haze, beyond which lay the River, and the end of the Shire in which he had spent all his life. Sam stood by him. His round eyes were wide open -- but he was looking across lands he had never seen to a new horizon.

"Do Elves live in those woods?" he asked.

"Not that I ever heard," said Pippen. Frodo was silent. He too was gazing eastward along the road, as if he had never seen it before. Suddenly he spoke, aloud but as if to himself, saying slowly:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then? I cannot say.

Written by Bilbo and quoted by Frodo: 'Bilbo's walking song'. There is a wonderful piece of prose accompanying it, comparing the Road to a river, with every path a tributary, and every doorstep a spring; very JRRT. In the the whole Tolkien corpus many paths and errands do indeed meet, giving his work the sense of 'depth' readers so much enjoy. In the Ring trilogy, the 'fellowship of the ring' increases both in size and bravery; likewise, the forces of evil grow in intensity and malice. In the end, we rejoice because of the faithful fellowship. After months of danger, conflict, terror, and fatigue, the forces of evil simply cannot stand against the gentle, poorly armed hobbits, who persist in their mission to the very end, even unto death.

But did Tolkien, a devout Catholic Christian have another source for his muse?

"For my enemy has sought my life, crushed me to the ground, and made me live in dark places like those who are long dead. My spirit faints within me; my heart within me is desolate. I remember the time passed; I muse upon all your deeds; I consider the works of your hands. I spread out my hands to you; my soul gasps to you like a thirsty land. Oh Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me; do not hide your face from me or I shall be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear of your loving kindness in the morning, for I put my trust in you; show me the Road that I must walk, for I lift up my soul to you." (Psalm 143)
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