Nativity relativity, Silmarillion simultaneity… (and humility.)

December 14, 2013

The star of Elendil shone bright in the sky and Olórin of the 3 Magi threw down his frankincense and drew his sword Glamdring, Foe-hammer. He rode forth from the east with Aragorn and the shepherds and all the hosts of the Rohirrim to Golgotha. And the slopes of the Mount of Olives ran red with the blood of the Pharisees.

Middle East/Middle Earth…
you can see how one might get confused.

when i was in the 5th grade…

and first really started reading for pleasure and more:
trying to listen and think (a bit) for myself.
i stumbled upon 2 works of immense import and complex genius,
some of my earliest influences coming together to frame my reference:
the Bible and The Lord of the Rings.

my family was somewhere,
driving in small slopes of dark pine and falling water.
as we drove; i looked at the scenery
and listened to cassettes on my new walkman
including (amongst many) vinyl to tape dubs of Jesus Christ Superstar
and Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wood.
i read my Bible and began the slow destruction of my Dad’s box set
of (what would now be considered vintage) Tolkien.
I was captured.
and it all started to meld together…

At this time of life i would fall asleep with
a pillow shaped like a cartoony lion’s head;
lying on the top bunk and telling myself stories about
being an orphaned ninja fighting crime
on the old neighborhood rooftops of Chicago
(or at least my imagined perception of them =
a cross between a little bit of ‘step in time’ London
and the carbon freeze chamber from Empire Strikes Back).
then in the morning i would feel humiliated when the new girls
from down the block (twins!) saw me playing legos on the porch and
absolutely mortified when i received toys (in front of everybody)
at Christmas (making this officially a seasonal post).
that year my voice changed one day in the school library
and on another i sang “Chicago” – a song written by
Graham Nash (of the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash)
from his 1971 solo debut (so in ’86 i took a stand on the politics of ’68)
while dressed as a hippy at the elementary school talent show
just to be told by the girl i was crushing on
that her mom thought i was “weird”.

somehow in the midst of all this (back in the car and the top bunk)…
i latched on to the character Faramir from Tolkien
and the book of James from the Bible.
influenced (perhaps) by the nature of Faramir,
i started saying a prayer based on a verse in James (3:13):
that God would grant me “the humility that comes from wisdom”
and reversing that: for the wisdom that comes from humility.
i prayed this often at first (through college)
and then sporadically for most of my life.
it has been woven into the fabric of my soul
even if i no longer remember how to pray
or know what i believe, or boast about what i don’t.
now, i recognize the lofty irony
in the noble, quixotic request of that little boy.
and i admit: i expected it, at some point,
to at least make me a better listener
or think less of the necessity of my own opinions.
but i have no desire to be sardonic about
the most sincere and longest standing words of my heart.
it is still the mantra of the man i long to be
and of course if it is ever answered, i will never know.


5 Responses to “Nativity relativity, Silmarillion simultaneity… (and humility.)”

  1. Jim Reppart Says:

    Shawn that was FASCINATING both in how you wove all that together and also in its revelation of your heart and development of who you are. God has and continues to answer that pray. I see it, hear it, and feel it when I am with you. Humility is a choice. You have chosen well.

  2. Ryan roling Says:


    Your posts just keep getting better. This was so fun to read. It just confirms what I have said to so many about you: you’re a genius.

  3. Lindsey Says:

    Even though we hadn’t met yet, I feel like you were my friend back then too.

  4. Danielle Says:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful. Something I have also prayed for often, wisdom and humility, though not in the same words. Sometimes I think we’re very alike and sometimes, not ver much alike at all. Mostly, I think of you still as my Big brother, someone I will always look up to and admire, someone who I wish to know more and be more like but who always seems just a little beyond me. I love you. This is one of my favorite posts so far.

  5. Gail Brown Says:

    I have often wondered how you were woven into the amazing man you are today. To say a parent has much influenced a child is questionable except to steer one in the the direction of learning who they are. God has granted your prayer and the rest of us are blessed by it in your presence.

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