Theoden, Lord of the Mark, king of Rohan and Denethor, Steward of Gondor. Two fathers, two leaders, both men who in the weight of war fall under it’s crushing burden.
Two men, estranged from son and nephew, men whose wounds were not of flesh but of mind and heart.
Men who needed other men to come to their aid, to confront, contend and conquer the voices, sufferings and fell moods that held them in their grasp.
Wounded men often wear crowns and sit on thrones. Wounded men have been struck by some great blow in their lives and they cease to grow.
Some men’s masculine journey stops at the wound. Others are like a tree impaled or caught with some immovable object, they begin to grow around it, within it and in spite of it, yet they grow warped and unnatural, due to the instrument of their wounding.
In the Lord of the Rings, both rulers needed Gandalf, one yielded to His offer for help and the other resisted it.
One lived by the hand of a friend and the other died by his own hand. Some version of salvation or suicide are often the only two paths out of the wound.
The Two Towers, ‘The The King of the Golden Hall’:
‘Now Théoden son of Thengel, will you hearken to me?’ said Gandalf. ‘Do you ask for help?’
He lifted his staff and pointed to a high window. There the darkness seemed to clear, and through the opening could be seen, high and far, a patch of shining sky.
‘Not all is dark. Take courage, Lord of the Mark; for better help you will not find. No counsel have I to give to those that despair. Yet counsel I could give, and words I could speak to you.
Will you hear them? They are not for all ears.
I bid you come out before your doors and look abroad. Too long have you sat in shadows and trusted to twisted tales and crooked promptings.’
Slowly Théoden left his chair. A faint light grew in the hall again. The woman hastened to the king’s side, taking his arm, and with faltering steps the old man came down from the dais and paced softly through the hall. Wormtongue remained lying on the floor. They came to the doors and Gandalf knocked.
‘Open!’ he cried. ‘The Lord of the Mark comes forth!’
How many men have languished in their wounding, unwilling to receive life giving words, unmoved, not willing to stand up and face the light.
They will not yield their chains to the power of the light. They sit on thrones, they sit as men, lords of their houses but dark men, prisoners of the past, powerless to prevail against the dark things that hold them in their grip.
They reject the counsel of the wise, the resit the charge to throw down their wicked staves, their crutches of weakness that they have relied upon for years. They will not repent of their excuses, their rebellions, their lusts.
They sit in private palaces nourished on “Twisted tales and Crooked Promptings”. Wormtongue has burrowed his lies into their minds, his poisonous tongue has castrated kings and made men into eunuchs.
To these men, wise wizards cry out: “Will you hearken?”
Every men must make a choice to move beyond his wounds. To bring them into the light of healing and wisdom.
All true warriors know that we do not hid our wounds, being wounded in battle is to be honored. We give medals and ribbons to those who have sacrificed, fought and fell. There is no shame of wounds among warriors.
Men who are wounded are treasured and measured among men who have yet bled for the cause.
Warriors would rather stand next to a man who has fallen and gotten back up then a man who has yet been tested by suffering. Scars speak of survival not weakness, they are the glory of a life lived on purpose.
Beware the warrior with soft and unmarred skin.