Gandalf: “No. And if you do, you will not be the same …”
Bilbo overcame his fears to take part in a life-changing adventure. Many years later, he would warn a young Frodo about the hazardous nature of adventures:
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.“
Bilbo would advise us to always keep our walking stick within reach – ready for an unexpected adventure.
2. The Adventure is always bigger than You
Amidst a group of seasoned warrior dwarves, Gandalf’s choice of Bilbo to travel with the company was rather odd. Yet he managed to outsmart trolls, spiders, goblins, elves and dragons. He faced grave dangers. He was also carried on the wings of the eagles of Gwaihir to safety. Gandalf saw in this ordinary hobbit something else:
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo
Baggins? Perhaps, because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”
Bilbo himself saw this as an adventure much bigger than himself.
Despite being desperately homesick for the Shire, he was on a quest:
“Look, I know you doubt me, I know you always have. And you’re right. I often think of Bag End. I miss my books. And my armchair. And my
garden. See, that’s where I belong. That’s home. That’s why I came back,
because you don’t have one. A home. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back, if I can.“
Bilbo would tell us that “even the smallest person can change the course of history”. The adventure we are called to is always bigger than ourselves.
3. It simply isn’t an Adventure worth telling if there aren’t any Dragons.
“Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air. I hear you breathe. Come along! Help yourself again, there is plenty and to spare!”
Smaug! The mountain had been left desolate, no one would venture near it, because amidst all the gold and glitter, lay a sleeping fire breather. How dull Bilbo’s tale would have been without this magnificent, cranky dragon.
Life was so pleasant in the Shire. A peaceful rhythm of life. Yet for Bilbo, just like for each of us, there may come moments when, often by no choice of our own, we are called from the Shire to go on an adventure and to face adversity. Staring into the face of our fear we wish it wasn’t so – but we are the people we are today because somewhere in our lives a dragon came calling.
The lesson we learn from a hobbit other than to “speak politely to enraged dragons”, or to “never laugh at live dragons”, is that our adventure is all the richer because of dragons.
4. There is a bond with the Friends you make on an Adventure.
“Goodbye and good luck, wherever you fare,“said Balin at last. “If ever you visit us again, when our halls are made fair once more, then the feast shall indeed be splendid.”
“If ever you are passing my way,” said Bilbo, “don’t wait to knock! Tea is at four; but any of you are welcome at any time!”
There is a ‘fellowship’ and an ‘unsaid knowing’ amongst friends who share in an Adventure. There are many dark and perilous journeys that we will take in our lifetime. How fortunate the person that gets to share it with friends.
The lesson we learn from a hobbit is that to share our adventures with friends is “more than any Baggins deserves.”