Advent devotion: Phial of light

News | December 15, 2019

Frodo and Sam’s situation is dire. They are trapped in a dark tunnel with a monstrous creature coming at them from the shadows. True, they have been in sticky situations before, but this one seems particularly hopeless. However, all is not lost.

J. R. R. Tolkein writes in The Two Towers: “Then, as [Sam] stood, darkness about him and a blackness of despair and anger in his heart, it seemed to him that he saw a light: a light in his mind, almost unbearably bright at first, as a sun-ray to the eyes of one long hidden in a windowless pit” (371). This light is the memory of the Lady Galadriel’s gift to Frodo, a glass phial filled with light from the Elves’ most beloved star, Eärendil. When she gave it to Frodo, she said: “It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out” (423). This little phial, a “dreadful infection of light,” (383) pierces the darkness, sending the evil creature back into its hole, saving the Hobbits. Even though after its retreat, Sam and Frodo remain in the dark tunnel with other evils about them, the light remains, illuminating the path ahead as their journey continues.

I, too, have been filled with despair, feeling lost, hopeless, and alone. While I do not have a starlight-filled phial to clutch and brighten my blackness, I do have a source of light: the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Like the Star of Eärendil, he lights the darkness in this world. Yet, also like the star, he does not pull me out of the tunnel. Rather, he stays in it with me, showing me that there is a way out, pushing my monsters back into their lairs. Likewise, just as Frodo and Sam always carry the phial of light, so Christ stays with me always, promising to shine more brightly in my darkest days.

May Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, be your light, illuminating the path ahead.

Kathryn Kvamme lives in Davenport and is about to begin nursing school. She is mom to Maggie and Owen, and married to Hayden.

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