Plain Quiet Folk

Tolkien’s The Hobbit begins with one dwarf after another arriving at Bilbo Baggins’ cozy home under the Hill. Earlier Gandalf had told Bilbo that he was looking for someone to share in an adventure.  Bilbo replies, “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things. . . .We don’t want any adventures here, thank you!”

But then the dwarves start arriving—all 13. Tolkien explains that Bilbo was “beginning to wonder whether a most wretched adventure had not come right into his house.” It is one thing, of course, to go on an adventure and quite another to have it come right into your home.

I turned 60 this last year and now have a license to reminisce. Almost all of our adult life Teckla and I have asked God to bring adventure into our home. He has. We have almost never lived alone. For a couple years in graduate school, we had our own one bedroom apartment in student housing. But even there, we packed 20—30 people into our apartment once a week for a graduate student Intervarsity Bible study. For a year in Olathe we lived in the basement of the home of some dear friends—I suppose we were the adventure in their home. (Thank you Arlie and Marva!)

From there we moved to a big blue house that for the next three years was packed with adventures—some glorious and others wretched. At times we had as many staying at our big blue house as Bilbo had for dinner. And then we were in a little blue house in Kansas City where we had a long string of house guests.

Here in Myrtle Point, Teckla and I have lived with my mother and our four sons, their friends, their dogs, and even a grandchild. Most of the boys have their own places now, but still move in briefly between jobs or apartments.

Mom’s health is spotty right now so some of our adventures are of the medical sort—my least favorite. Even so, we have had a quiet winter, and I have gotten into a pleasant routine of building a fire in the evening, working some at my desk by the window, then watching a little TV with Teckla. I have, in fact, been a hobbit—except for the TV.

But I know this tranquility will be short-lived. Like Gandalf who marked poor Bilbo’s door, God seems to have marked our door with a rune that invites adventure. And perhaps even more likely, the door of our heart has been marked. The door may groan a little on its hinges, but it still swings wide. We do not yet have any treasure to show for our adventures, but we have fought dragons.

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About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.
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