On Monday morning I received a phone call from some parishoners at St. Luke's who wanted to invite me to dinner. I was honored and immediately agreed to join them. They gave me their address and off I went. But they don't really live in what I would call a normal household. As it turns out, they live in an intentional Christian community, called Reba Place, which is but only two blocks away from where I live. Several people, some family, others not, plus two interns (students studying intentional community living) live in this house designated to this communal lifestyle in the Mennonite religious tradition. The people I knew from St. Luke's actually only attend there every other Sunday, attending the Reba Place Church (Mennonite) on the other Sundays. I thought the whole idea was fascinating. So, the dinner was magnificent and I met lots of really cool new people, three of whom I actually saw at the Y today. New gym buddies is always a good thing. They have community living rules, like everyone is expected at breakfast and dinner each day and they have a rotating schedule of cooking duties. Prayer meetings are once a week on Tuesday mornings. Small group discussion and meditations are once a week on Thursday evenings. I had no idea such a place existed outside the realm of monasteries! As it turns out, incidentally, one of the women there was an avid Tolkien fan and we got to talking about the books. Others quickly chimed in, fans as well, until one said to the first woman, "Why don't you bring down your illustrations to show him?" I say I would relish the opportunity to see such things. She had apparently made one pencil illustration for each chapter of the book, choosing a moment or a phrase from that chapter to bring to life in a drawing. I waited with bated breath to see these, unsure how I was going to react to them. With such a book, so visual in its written form, and with such a reader as most Tolkien fans are likely to be, we already have our own images locked in of what these things, people, and places look like. (Now, with the advent of the films, most of us have two images: the film's version and the way things really
are in our minds.) She brought them down and I was stunned. They were astonishingly beautiful. Sure, a few things felt not quite right to me, but the love and labor of this decade long project was extremely evident. She had accurately captured some favorite moments as well as some unlikely ones, highlighting scenes or characters generally regarded as peripheral. I asked if she had done anything in the way of getting them published. John Howe and David Day are great, but fresh images (which frankly means new and inspired calendars!) are always a bonus. She said she had made some inquiries, but had really had no success. I suggested sending a facsimile of some images, because I felt sure someone would take her up on it - they were that good, both technically and creatively speaking. She said she wanted to pursue it and I hope for the world of Tolkien fans that she will. So, it was really a marvelous night, filled with new friends and some excellent surprises. I, of course, came home and immediately watched some of the DVD extras from the extended version of the Fellowship
, having worked myself up to a Tolkien frenzy.
Wowza. I plan to ask you whether you remember any particular images among her drawings: a scene she chose, how she rendered it, how it struck you. Art: it's cool.
i think i had a professor who lives (lived?) at Reba Place. Weird.
Our group of local pastors from all over the Midwest, toured Reba Place this summer and found it fascinating, encouraging and meeting the needs of so many in a satisfying way. Blessings as you continue to bring "salt and light" into the world. jcp, SD