He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and that if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountain or even further and to worse places?” He used to say that on the path outside the front door at Bag End, especially after he had been out for a long walk. (p. 83, The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1988).
Driving home from Synod 2012 late at night, I thought of Bilbo’s remarks about the road outside your door being the same one that leads to far forests, isolated mountains, and worse places.
The same I-80 that runs across Iowa is the interstate highway that leads east, through Pennsylvania’s wooded mountain ridges, to New York City.
We embarked on our synod saga before dawn. As sky lightened above the dark earth, a white mist lay like bright fleece on a field. When we returned in the wee hours of a morning ten days and 2,460 miles later, stars glittered in the black canopy above our home.
Like Bilbo, we’d been there and back again.