Rivendell Postulant’s Guide, Unit B
Our Story and The Story
The Rivendell Motif and the Journey
The Image of Rivendell
“The Last Homely House east of the Sea… A perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or storytelling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Unless they’re fresh in your mind, please re-read the first two chapters of Book II, The Fellowship of the Ring (“Many Meetings” and “The Council of Elrond.”)
Very early in the history of the Rivendell Community, when the first members were just beginning to think about opening the first House, Tolkien’s depiction of Rivendell served as a kind of model: a house of true hospitality, where the songs and stories of Home were remembered and cherished, where weary or endangered pilgrims could find sanctuary, rest and healing, and where counsel could be taken to stand against the powers of darkness. “Rivendell” became a convenient short-hand for the vision–and when the first house became a reality, the name stuck.
The Community seeks to create “homely houses” which are both solidly incarnate, with good food, conversation, story and song, fragrant with flowers, sun and wind, and bread baking, and “thin places” where transcendent reality can be encountered. (“Homely,” by the way, is a word with a venerable pedigree in the medieval English literature which Tolkien loved, and taught: in Julian of Norwich and other spiritual writers of the period, for instance, it refers to the astonishing, self-emptying, “con-descending” love of God who is familiarly at home with us, and invites us to be at home with God. Needless to say, a “homely house” is not one of those “ugly houses” that certain realty companies offer to buy!)
“Rivendell” suggests both the Community’s work of prayer–the constant immersion in the stories and songs of “our true native land” through sacred time, the Daily Office, and the silent prayer that looks beyond all words–and our work of hospitality. While “hospitality” is an obvious interest of the Motherhouse, with its retreat work which offers hospitality both material and spiritual, all members of Rivendell are to express hospitality in their own settings. Each Chapter has particular ministries of hospitality in which their members take part. Each Companion, too, seeks to cultivate a disposition of hospitality–making space in our lives to welcome others, listen to and serve them, making space in our minds to hear the experience and perspectives of others, making space in our hearts to hold in compassion their sorrows, burdens and hope. And, in addition to whatever common work of hospitality a Chapter may be engaged in, each Companion will have particular interests, passions, and ministries in the Church and the world, which will be sustained and focused Godward by prayer, one’s own and that of one’s Companions.
– Where and how have you experienced hospitality?
– Where and how do you offer hospitality, or think you might?
– How do you see in the Scriptures, and especially in Jesus, something of the “hospitality of God?”