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Bilbo's Longing

I feel I need a holiday, a very long holiday.
— Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring has a gravitational pull that tugs me in every few years. I love the wonder, the enchantment, the adventure—the truth hidden behind every corner. Upon reading the first chapter, I was struck again at Bilbo’s exchange with Gandalf before he surrenders Saruon’s Ring to his inheritor, Frodo.

What seemed so poignant, especially today in our busy, stressful lives, was the truth of how Bilbo described his utter, internal exhaustion. The whole first chapter is dedicated to describing the planning and celebration of Bilbo’s 111th birthday, while, in the midst of such anticipation, wealth, and blessing, Bilbo articulates his deep, private longing. This is what he says:

Why I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change or something.
— Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

It’s amazing that Bilbo, a fictional character developed almost 90 years ago, can put words to the longing of the modern human soul (or hobbit soul?) for REST. We all have seasons in life when exhaustion sneaks up on us. Whether we’re doing much for others, doing much for ourselves, or just dealing with too much in general—Bilbo’s experience can sneak up on us as well, and like him, we realize our deep need for change. Bilbo continues:

Well, I’ve made up my mind, anyway. I want to see mountains again, Gandalf - mountains; and then find somewhere where I can rest. In peace and quiet...
— Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

After these words, Bilbo takes a brave step, a huge risk, and leaves all of his wealth, his friends and acquaintances, all respectable hobbit-society, even his private obsession (the ring), and heads off on an adventure. Which, if you’ve read The Hobbit, Adventure was what first brought him out of his comfort zone, drew out his courage, and formed him into the hobbit he became.

We all encounter seasons where we long for change, we long for rest, we long for a heart-level adventure. The Hobbit was published in 1937 and The Fellowship of the Ring was published in 1952—these books have gone on to sell millions of copies and become multiple feature length films. There are many reasons for this, but one I am reminded of today is that characters like Bilbo call us from our “comfort zones” to find those places of rest and restoration and step into the truest adventures we’re made for!

P.S. If you’re thinking of an adventure of the heart, or longing for rest, or just needing a change, we at Soul-Care.com would love to help you.

Click below to begin your journey: