Responding recently to a tweet by Sean Astin asking for favorite Tolkien quotes, Kelly Cowling sent this: “If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.” Here at Grey Havens, Kelly’s idealism comes to life every week.
Gathering around a table at Barbed Wire Books, the talk flows quickly. One must be agile, leaping into the energetic chatter before it moves on forever. So when the star that shines upon the hour of our meeting at last fades, we pack up this energy and we adjourn to a nearby coffee shop to continue our talk. At La Vita Bella our wandering Hall of Fire becomes a noisy row of conversations over delicious pastries and coffee.
Michael White in The Life and Work of JRR Tolkien (2002:135) cites the letters of C.S. Lewis to characterize the weekly meetings of the Inklings as “raucous affairs.” And so the business that we conduct at Grey Havens is the traditional business of Middle-earth.
If only Sean Astin could see beyond the edges of the concisions of twitterland to glimpse the raucous good cheer at Grey Havens. Because when we gather to create a “much merrier world,” even old Bilbo Baggins might feel a bit spritely.