For our last read-aloud Aidan and I are reading the Hobbit. Great read. Aidan loves it and hates when I put it down, "Please just one more chapter!"
As I'm reading through, this time, an aspect of the character of Bilbo leapt out of the book to me.
In the beginning Gandalf invites all the dwarves to Bilbo's house to plan the adventure. When the dwarves question Gandalf in his choice of burglar Gandalf responds,
"That's right...Let's have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet."Now of course, Bilbo has no idea what's in store for him. But Gandalf sees his potential. Prior to this great adventure Bilbo had never stepped out of the Shire and now he has crossed the Misty Mountains, wrestled spiders, outwitted a Gollum, pickpocketed trolls and stole from the great Smaug. All because he stepped out his front door into an unknown adventure to face and become what Gandalf saw he could be.
I love that. I love it in stories when the hero has no idea who they are or of their capabilities and through trial and tribulation they become greater, wiser, braver, stronger, humbler.
Bilbo is in the Lone Mountain, has encountered Smaug, and beginning to recognize the changes in himself:
"Already he was a very different hobbit from the one that had run out without a pocket handkerchief from Bag-End long ago."And then the dwarves too are seeing the wisdom of Gandalf's choice:
"Already they had come to respect little Bilbo. Now he had become the real leader in their adventure. He had begun to have ideas and plans of his own."How much potential is in me, when I step out my front-door into unknown, unplanned adventures? How much for yourself? But it takes that first step, not thinking, re-thinking, and re-re-thinking again...just stepping out without our pocket-handkerchief!