I often say that there is a special kind of magic that is generated in Tolkien groups. The way their discussions and other creative activities transcend how those things are normally done and into areas hard to describe and hard to find elsewhere. I do think that such magic perhaps can be found in other fields where people discuss a lot and bend their minds into side-stepping common thought processes, in groups where I want to claim that geeks are extra geeky and nerds are being extra nerdy, not just passively liking, but actively examining and even locking horns on all the hows and what-ifs.
That is how Charles and Elisha added their magic to the Grey Havens group, and then some sort of non-magical magic fusion happened, which ended in a Hobbit book shaped wedding cake being cut and laughter and merriment mingling on a magic evening in October last year.
But it all started with Charles, wanting to get Elisha’s attention, one evening two years or so before that fusion, by asking while discussing a chapter in The Return of the King called “The Steward and the King”, if Lady Eowyn was fickle, and if perhaps that was how women work in general. A lengthy and very interesting discussion ensued, as often happens in the Grey Havens and the matter was thoroughly resolved. I thought Charles looked unsurprised by the resolution, as if he already knew the answer, but just wanted to know how certain other people approached the subject.
The magic of groups like The Grey Havens is often subtle, just like Tolkien’s own magic in the books. It’s a gentle force, working its way through cracks in the surface of the mundane or even hurtful, shining gleams of something else into areas where marvelous things can grow. It well reflects how you may feel after an evening with the Grey Havens, even if the day previously was bad, or how you grow new friendships there, and as it turns out, even new love.
Charles’ and Elisha’s wedding last fall was a lovely book-themed event attended by several Grey Haveners. The wedding officiant was Roger Echo Hawk, a long time Grey Havener and close friend of the couple. During his touching ceremony, I read a poem which very much reflects the couple and also the subtle magic that happens in such groups as the Grey Havens.
The Wedding Poem for Charles and Elisha
When a boy loves a girl,
Like Tom Sawyer, he will let her share his chewing gum
and willingly take the blame for her
when the teacher discovers a ripped page
in the school’s anatomy book.
In Longmont, Tom Sawyer sat around a table
at the Barbed Wire Bookstore
looking at Becky Thatcher during a book discussion,
waiting for her to have the last word even when she was silent.
He admitted that her carrot cake was better than any bakery’s
and he took in her stranded relatives during a crisis,
even when he just wanted his basement back.
Tom loved his Becky so much more than his basement.
When a girl loves a boy,
just like princess Luthien, she will travel to the evil land of Angband
and sing a lullaby for the dark lord,
so that they can collect the treasure for their wedding dowry,
and she will forsake her elven immortality to become a normal woman
and age with him.
In Colorado, Luthien, the elven princess,
moved from her childhood Boulder into Longmont
and started eating animal protein for the first time in more than 25 years,
to be with Beren the mortal man.
She cooks him bacon every morning and watches him catch fish,
even though she would rather release it.
Luthien loves her Beren so much more than she loves fish.
Charles and Elisha, Beren and Luthien,
Heathcliff and Catherine, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher,
Diana Troy and Will Riker;
– never forget all that is unique and all that is similar in undying love.
Read poems under the balcony, even when it rains
Share each other’s chewing gum and put the dark lord to sleep with a lullaby,
and always, always, remember to kiss in the last chapter.
May your journey across the Western Sea be long and prosperous.