Lessons from Celeborn

Celeborn is an important figure in Middle-earth. He is the husband of Galadriel, Lady of Light and High Queen of the Elven-race. He is a former warrior wise beyond measure and keen in insight. Devoted to his wife, Celeborn is the ideal of a husband as much as he is a commander.  There is much to learn from this soft-spoken figure who dwells in the background, often dissolving into the shadow of his wife. His importance is not pivotal to destroying the Ring, but of a significant power in a changing world.

Quiet grief in an hour of darkness.

All too often we think to be strong, we cannot seem sensitive or express feeling. Many cultures teach men to withhold their emotions because it’s not manly to cry, show grief, or express themselves beyond resolve. But God values compassion. Jesus showed it many times—to prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners. Jesus wept. He was not afraid to show sorrow, happiness, or concern. Though he never made a spectacle of his feelings, he was sensitive to the issue at hand. He felt and sympathized with people, with our frail bodies and everlasting souls.

Celeborn not only felt deep sorrow over the loss of Gandalf as a powerful ally and friend, but was aware of the deep grief experienced by the Fellowship. He showed compassion toward them in their hour of darkness. He clung to the hope Galadriel offered, that none of Gandalf’s deeds were needless in life; they should not be so quick to judge this apparent folly, nor believe the wizard gone forever. We can see the sorrow in his eyes. He doesn’t break down nor is he impassive. None of the Elves are. Too often we find the Elves stern, aloof, and prideful. To some extent, they are. But they also express feelings. They might not be as obvious as the wails of Gimli upon finding his dead kin in Moria, or the torrents of tears of the hobbits, but death and suffering touches them all. Legolas after Gandalf’s passing, Celeborn in Lórien—even Galadriel when she senses how much Frodo fears the future.

Celeborn handles his grief well. He doesn’t go overboard, but neither does he come across as unfeeling or cold. He is aware of his position and powers. Celeborn cannot travel with them or protect them against the inevitable conflict, but he can offer hope and wisdom, to warn them against their unseen enemy.

The perfect husband.

Celeborn is the husband of a powerful monarch with greater power and influence than his own gifts. Galadriel has the incredible responsibility to protect Middle-earth. Whenever she speaks, her words carry deep wisdom. Tolkien write many parallels to the Virgin Mary within Galadriel, which leaves Celeborn in the role of Joseph. But if you consider the scriptural account, God chose both of them. He chose Mary to bear the savior of the world, and Joseph to stand as her protector and husband.

When they come together at the head of the stairs and join hands to descend, we realize the Lord and Lady of Lothlórien are a perfect match. They are not two separate beings but one in marriage, each giving in to the other. They are the embodiment of what God desires man and wife to be. None is higher than the other, but they work together as one. Their strengths offset each other’s weakness.

The Lord of Lórien does not feel intimidated by his wife’s position or power; instead he supports and protects her. A lesser elf might find fault with being a step lower than his wife. Celeborn respects and loves Galadriel, and wants her to reach her full potential. I believe God’s original intention for marriage is for the woman to support and encourage her husband (embodied in Arwen and Aragorn) and for the man to protect and enable his wife to greater heights (embodied here, in Celeborn and Galadriel). The ideal is Priscilla and Aquila, two Christians referenced in scripture. Both wise and learned, they learned from Paul in the ways of God and taught together at the church in Corinth.

Celeborn is neither weak nor unwise. He lets his wife speak, because he trusts her wisdom. Celeborn is not afraid to let Galadriel hold the floor. Her presence and intelligence does not diminish him.

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