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I enjoyed reading this very much. I read some similar thoughts here, https://open.substack.com/pub/bornofwonder/p/a-very-lord-of-the-rings-advent-pt, and I think I’ll just copy and paste what I wrote in reply to that post, because it’s equally applicable. Thanks for the great read!

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I also like to think about how (in the books, at least) Gimli gets a glimpse of the Glittering Caves of Aglarond, a glimpse of the wonders he will experience in the next age of Middle Earth, though, at the time, he has no way to be certain that he will even survive even that very night at Helms Deep.

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Yes! I love that vision of the future Gimili has, and how maybe that plays in to hope and faith. On a different note, last year I was lucky enough to help with some qualitatively research here in South Africa looking at the narratives of people who were identified in their communities as hopeful people. It was interesting trying to pull out themes from all of these people's stories about what made them hopeful... but a lot of them very much had a "forward" gaze. One person spoke about how her grandmother had pipes put in their house before running water came to the area. But she could see a day it would come, and wanted to be ready (although therr was no tangible proof the government would change hands and bring water!) Reminds me of Gimlis vision.

Thank you for sharing and for the link recommendation! Great essay!

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Beautiful! Love the Helm's Deep/Advent connection so much! Thank you Steph!

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I'm so glad it connected! Lovely perusing your work and seeing the beauty all around.

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Phenomenal. The older I've gotten, the more complex life and the tragedies and beauties along the way have become...and I've had to cling to stubborn hope.

(I feel like a lemon twist with strawberry juice will help with that clinging. One of my obscure passions is the art of the old-fashioned soda - so this really is up my alley).

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Yes, stubborn hope! I love that!

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I was just thinking about Helm's Deep and that moment where Gandalf comes over the crest the other day. I think it's one of my very favorite moments from the whole series. Loved this whole reflection and post (and thanks for sharing that link)!

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I know that Narnia has a more straightforward redemption story arc (and, a friend pointed out the Lion , Witch and Wardrobe is a perfect Southern Hemisphere Christmas movie... winter dies and summer comes (but we still get Christmas 😅) -- but I love how Tolkien has all of these embedded pictures of hope & redemption in the midst of such an epic journey.

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Helms Deep! What an analogy! Steph, I just loved this essay so much.

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I'm glad it resonated. An example of thinking about something for two weeks, then trying to write it in-between supervising the CHRISTMAS CRAFTING which some children are deep into... so I'm glad a kernel of what I was thinking came through! ;D

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Oh, now I have to listen to the Battle of Helm's Deep again! What a lovely article to succor us through these times. The lemon twist with strawberry juice sounds divine and I'll add it (probably with a fruity twist of my own) to the Christmas lunch menu for our hot and summery Aussie Christmas. Although I'm not a Christian myself, I appreciate your message and wishes for hope. May your Advent bring you and your community much comfort and joy through this season.

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Thank you so much! I have enjoyed your historical deep dives in Aussie Christmases. And always interesting to see how people here of British heritage have similar traditions in many ways (out door caroling, lots of cricket) Although I will say there is still a stubborn contingent of some of us who are trying to cook full on roasts instead of salad by the pool 😊. It helps that the weather in our location swaps between hot summer days and mist& drizzle, so we get both vibes. Sometimes I wonder if being more of a minority than those in Australia preserves and hardens some of those heritage traditions more deeply. 🤔 I'm just so fascinated by cultural adaptation, and memory, and what this all means for people!

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I know what you mean about the stubborn contingent, we have them here too. I think I'd feel right at home in a South African Christmas. I think you could write a PhD about minority status and preservation of traditions, if someone hasn't already. I have the same fascination. Have you read my recent post about Santa? Take a look at the Louisianna Cajun Santa tradition, hilarious and perfectly adapted to the culture!

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This is so lovely. Yes hopeful, waiting, expectant.

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