If J. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings isn’t one of your all-time favourite novels and/or if you weren’t as similarly enamoured with the resulting trilogy of movies as I have been, then you can be forgiven for not understanding the statement in the upper right-hand corner of this blog page. If you scratched your head when you read the quote, help is on its way. Let’s start with a super condensed synopsis of Lord of the Rings:
  • The action begins in the idyllic rolling hills of the Shire, the home of the hobbits, a fun loving, cheerful group of people.
  • All does not stay cheerful, however. Frodo, one of the hobbits, receives a ring from his Uncle Bilbo Baggins. When worn, the Ring causes the wearer to disappear. Soon thereafter, Gandalf the Great, a towering wizard, realizes, that the ring carries with it great danger.
  • The ring is the One Ring forged by Sauron the Dark Lord thousands of years before to enable him to overpower and enslave the people of the Middle-Earth. Should the ringbearer wear the Ring, he/she becomes capable of incredible evil.
  • Frodo soon learns from Gandalf that should the Dark Lord succeeded in capturing the Ring, the Middle-Earth will fall into his evil grasp.
  • Despite the extreme danger and hopelessness, Frodo accepts the challenge of carrying the ring to Mordor, the center of Sauron’s domain. Only there, in the fiery pits of Mordor, can the Ring be finally destroyed. To get there, however, Frodo must enter into the highly fortified lair of his enemy.
  • Not only is every step of Frodo’s journey fraught with danger, but the very proximity of the Ring’s evil weakens Frodo’s spirit. Increasingly, Frodo finds himself tempted by the Ring’s seductive promise of power.
  • Frodo does not travel alone in his journey, however. While others representing the forces of good attempt to draw attention away from the ringbearer’s movement towards Mordor, Frodo goes forward accompanied by his best friend Sam.
  • Together, Frodo and Sam accomplish the impossible. When Frodo weakens, the resolve of his spirit softening and his determination to not succumb to the temptation of the Ring gives way, his ever-present friend, Sam, is there. Sam continually encourages his friend, affirms his progress, chastises his belligerence and, when Frodo weakens, Sam stands ever vigilant, knowing that should his friend ultimately answer the Ring’s evil call, he disappears and all good will be lost.
A number of years ago when Susan and I finally went to the movie theater to watch Lord of the Rings, I was, of course, extremely excited. Susan, on the other hand, entered the theater with only a very basic understanding of the plot line. As we exited the theater, I turned to Susan and asked, “Well, what did you think?”. At the same time, however, I saw that tears were streaming down her cheeks, which, of course, startled me. “Oh, what’s wrong?” I queried. She responded, “If pain is the Ring, then you are to Frodo, as I am to Sam”.

From that point forward, we have often cited this line to each other. The Ring, is symbolic of my pain. I have few choices other than to carry it through life, but, at the same time, I have options regarding how I respond to my pain. Like Frodo, when I figuratively choose to slip the ring on my finger, I disappear from my family and friends. Although I may feel justified in allowing myself to become overwhelmed by bitterness, anger, or depression, from the perspective of my family or friends, I disappear before their eyes. In other words, pain is the ultimate winner. The rest of us, including myself, end up suffering even more.

So, what does this all mean? It means that my constant traveling companion, is Susan. She is also my friend Sam. Over the years, she has encouraged and affirmed me, chastised my belligerence and stood ever vigilant should I succumbed to the temptation to wear the Ring. Without her, I would’ve never made it through this long, arduous journey with pain. I can never thank her enough.



Thanks for the synopsis. Well said!


Yes, thanks for the overview and I agree, Rhonda, Well said!

Anne Boehlig

Dear friends, you sure do know how to touch my heart. This is so beautiful, and yes, it does describe the two of you so well. Thank you. I hope this comparison of Frodo/Rod and Sam/Susan will be our reality, even in small part, as Frodo/Henry and Sam/Anne.


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    Rod and Susan

    "If Pain is the ring, Frodo is to Rod as Sam is to Susan."
    (see 02/07/12 for an explanation)

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