Aragorn was a child of promise. His father Arathorn loved a maiden named Gilraen the Fair. Dirhael, Gilraen’s fore-sighted father, initially opposed the union, believing that Arathorn’s life would be short. But he was overruled by the words of his wife Ivorwen:
“The days are darkening before the storm, and there are great things to come. If these two wed now, hope may be born for our people; but if they delay, it will not come while this age lasts.”
Arathorn and Gilraen marry, and she gives birth to Aragorn. When in fulfillment of Dirhael’s foreboding, Arathorn is killed by an orc-arrow, Gilraen takes Aragorn to Rivendell for refuge. There, in keeping with Ivorwen’s prophecy, he is called by the name Estel.
It is in Rivendell, of course, that Aragorn meets and falls in love with Arwen, but they recognize that much must take place before they can be together. Aragorn leaves Rivendell for nearly thirty years, during which time he undertakes many perilous quests in opposition of Sauron. During this time he continues to embody the rugged hope of humanity:
“His face was sad and stern because of the doom that was laid on him, and yet hope dwelt ever in his heart, from which mirth would arise at times like a spring from a rock.”
Notice the interaction between doom (which I take primarily in the sense of destiny but also secondarily in the sense of curse) and hope: doom lies on him, but hope dwells in his heart.
Fate brings Arwen and Aragorn back together in the woods of Lorien, and there Arwen tells him of her confidence in him: “Dark is the Shadow, and yet my heart rejoices; for you, Estel, shall be among the great whose valour will destroy it.”
He responds. “Alas! I cannot foresee it, and how it may come to pass is hidden from me. Yet with your hope I will hope.”
It is worth stopping here to make a salient point. Many times when we are in the throes of despair we regard the hope-filled around us with envy or even contempt. What do they see that we cannot? How can they be so hopeful?
In so doing we turn great gifts into curses. Because the hope-filled are meant to be our greatest allies in our moments of despair. We need them to hope for us.
We hold onto them, while they hold onto something – or Someone – that we as yet cannot see.
“Yet with your hope I will hope.”