Little track of hobbit’s feet;
Only the sharp-eyed can see them,
With glasses big or magnifying glass,
Peer close to see where they passed.
This is how I feel these days- like I’m hiding a wealth of myself away. I’m small and insignificant- unable to affect the world. The people in my community and in the Northwest, do we see the big picture all around us- the real currents that control the fluid movement of the air? I’m glad my big person is Jesus, and that He’s holding my hand.
Forsythia Burrowbottom scurried down the overgrown lane between the cornfields like a leaf curling in the wind. She had a feeling inside that she couldn’t explain. She gripped her bag in her hands. Inside it she carried a bundle of freshly harvested herbs, still with a tangle of roots and bits of earth attached. With this clump of greenery she hoped to produce some medicine for an old friend.
It felt good to reach her small home and push open the round door at last.
“Hold fast, dear old Brindleburr,” she muttered where she bent over her chopping board, ripping at the frayed pile of herbs and holding back her tears.
Brindleburr Towhill was one of the oldest hobbits in Little Delving, and he was failing. Soon now, although she didn’t like to admit it, she wouldn’t hear his slow footstep inside her father’s shop or see his kindly eyes smile at her.
He’d been her father’s first customer right after her parents had gotten married and he’d visited the shop all the years of her childhood. Always he’d taken the time to ask after her, to bow in her direction and make her feel like she was important enough to listen to. He was a polite, solicitous, wise and very dear old hobbit- living alone in a hole not much larger than her own. For many long years he’d gone to the village shops once a week and graced everyone with his gentle cheer. You could set the time and the seasons by him.
But today he didn’t come. Today he couldn’t come. Down inside Forsythia knew that he’d never go out for a walk in the village lanes again. She picked out the tenderest leaves and sniffed.
She wondered why did life have to change? Why did the familiar things have to pass away? That quiet old hobbit with his list of errands, pottering in his slow and deliberate way, taking time to greet every shopowner and bow to smile at every child- Brindleburr Towhill had never gotten married. He’d never given the village anything large and important. He hadn’t made huge jokes at Birthday parties, or sang clever songs at The Brown Barrel. He would pass away to rest like his quiet parents had done long ago and the hobbit children who skipped down the lanes right now would forget about him.
And yet she knew that something precious would disappear from the village when he was gone- a sweet lilt of a tune would disappear like the fragrance of honeysuckle dwindled in the evening breeze.
She crushed and pressed her tiny crop into usefulness, folded out a packet to hold the medicine from her prettiest paper, stopped to pull a few extra curls out from her pins because Mr. Towhill had always admired her curls, and scurried back out into the lane.
She didn’t expect to see anyone when she tapped on the old hobbit’s door a few minutes later. Opening the door she was especially surprised to hear a round of booming laughter. She paused in the act of entering, her melancholy thoughts checked and confused.
“Ah, Miss Burrowbottom,” Mr. Towhill’s weak but courtly voice called out. “Do come in! I wonder how is it that two of my most favorite neighbors have come to visit me at the same time? How happy I am!”
She came inside, glancing at a direct ray of a sunbeam that illuminated some dust motes as they danced at her passage. There, sitting in a chair by Brindleburr’s bed, and wearing a bright red waistcoat, was none other than Mr. Donago Greenhaven. She had to shake her head. She seemed to be running into the fellow everywhere she went. Donago scrambled to his feet with a bow as she approached, as if the sick hobbit’s manners had rubbed off on him.
As of course they would. There in Donago’s eyes shone vitality and friendship, good cheer and hope. And in the bed was an old hobbit that was grateful for the warmth of her handshake.
“I’ve brought you some medicine, dear Mr. Towhill,” she said, pulling up a little stool to sit by her old friend. “It should help you rest.”
“The sight of you young hobbits have done that!” the old hobbit replied. “I’ve never seen you two together before, but if you don’t mind my saying so, there’s a spice I see in the mixture of your faces!”
She dropped her head and put her fingers on her cheeks.
“What are you talking about?” she gasped, but Donago laughed out loud again.
“You old fraud!” he said. “Lying there in bed just to get us both here and be a matchmaker!”
“It’s good, too!” Mr. Towhill agreed, almost as cheerful. “Mark my words, Donago. This little hobbit maiden is something special. She’s cinnamon buns and apple tarts! She’s brown broth with a hint of rosemary!”
Soon all three of them were laughing at how ridiculous the old hobbit was being. She got up and mixed his medicine, and after while he drank his tea and fell asleep. She tidied his little kitchen and Donago carried in some firewood. They left him tucked up in his bed and sleeping with a small smile of peace on his face.
As Donago walked her home they strolled in silence, but she didn’t feel so strange anymore. There was a new tune drifting down the lane behind them, and it was tickling her heart to get her attention. Her old friend had given his blessing, and his touch had mattered in both her and Donago Greenhaven’s life. In recognizing that, she’d grasped love, an element of the life in the village that would never fade away.