So many things could be said as this historic day comes to a close. What I find lingering in my heart, though, are the very last pages of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
“Go in peace,” Gandalf says to Sam, Merry and Pippin as he and Frodo prepare to sail into the West. “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
“Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
“But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was soon lost in the West. There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and the murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart. Beside him stood Merry and Pippin, and they were silent.”
Today it was not a white ship that bore away Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, but rather a white helicopter. As “a simple pilgrim about to begin the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth,” he remains united and close to us in his hidden life of prayer. And while this reality brings with it a deep consolation, I must admit that tonight I feel a bit like Sam.
We love you, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. And we thank you for your spiritual fatherhood, your humility, joy, wisdom, and full embrace of the Father’s Will.