Title: Without a Pocket-Hankerchief
Subject: Deriving encouragement from Bilbo's example in dealing with sudden change.
Word Count: 677 as counted by Jarte
Without a Pocket-Hankerchief
When life goes along smoothly, it's easy to think that everything is safe and under control. But life is rarely smooth like that, even in the Shire where peace reigns and nothing unexpected ever seems to happen. When the unexpected did actually happen one day, forcing Bilbo out into the world on an adventure he hadn't planned for and wasn't sure he even wanted, he wasn't really ready for it. How he dealt with that unexpected adventure ended up being a true test of his flexibility and his character and an inspiration to us all.
I also had an experience very much like Bilbo's that tested my flexibility and my character. It happened overseas in a far away land during a time of unrest and uncertainty. My husband and I had just returned to the foreign country we had been living in for 18 years, after being gone for over a year on a visit to the Unites States. We were happy to be back among our friends and eager to get back to the work we had been doing prior to leaving. Upon our arrival at our home there, I started unpacking our bags, while my husband went to sign in with the police, as is the custom for foreigners living in that place.
He returned home with the news that we had been given two hours to leave the city! During the year we had been away, the government had made a new law that foreigners couldn't live in our district. We were expected to move out immediately -- just like that! -- and go to another district that didn't have a restriction on foreigners. It was an unexpected shock, to say the least!
I at once thought of Bilbo, and knew then what it must have felt like to be suddenly pushed out the door with little preparation and not even a pocket-hankerchief for comfort! How does one cope in a situation like that? We did as Bilbo did -- we just went!
After some negotiating, the authorities relented and gave us 24 hours to leave town instead of the original two, but we still had to go. We grabbed what we could, though it was hard to think of what we might need with so little time to think it all through. We quickly repacked the bags we had begun to unpack and went off to another city which was familiar to us, though we hadn't lived there for some time. We stayed in someone else's home until we could figure out what to do next.
We were shocked and frightened and angry, but we discovered that -- much to our surprise -- we were able to cope with the change. It didn't happen overnight; we still struggled with losing our place, our home, our work, everything. It was a huge change, and an uncertain period that lasted a very long time -- but we really did cope, and grew during that time, and found ourselves becoming an encouragement to others who were also struggling in a time of uncertainty.
Bilbo grew from his experience of being forced out of his home unexpectedly, to go on an adventure. That adventure taught him valuable lessons that he was able to teach others, and in the end, those lessons aided the entire community and saved his land of the Shire. He learned to be flexible and to live without things like pocket-hankerchiefs -- so when he had them again, he appreciated them even more!
I lost my pocket-hankerchiefs for a time, but I got new ones, and ended up being blessed by the experience of living without them. My adventure taught me valuable lessons, as well -- lessons of trust and learning to be flexible; lessons of accepting sudden change as I learned to look at life's bigger picture. I hope, too, that I have gained wisdom like Bilbo's that can be passed on to others,of benefit to my family and community as they go through life in a world where the unexpected invariably happens.