The Grey Havens is a place, one of the only places, that leads to the ocean. The ocean, because it is the origin of all life, and also because of the mysteries beneath, is symbolic of life and mystery. One could even say it represents the mysteries of life. But, why would Tolkien use the ocean to represent the exit from life? Well, the ocean is the mystery of the beginning of life, and many believe that after death, we will return back to where we came from. Thus the ocean could represent the beginning and end of life.
The journey into the west is symbolic of translation. The city of Enoch in the Old Testament was translated, as was Elijah and few others. Translation meaning going into heaven without separating spirit and body. One of my all time favorite songs is Into the West, sung by Annie Lennox. It is a song about the Grey Havens.
This song literally almost brings me to tears, especially with the video. You can hear it talk about the mysteries of the other side of the sea, or heaven. It says that even though you have been through so much hardship and trial, you don’t have to be afraid, you will be going to a better place, full of joy and rest, no longer worrying about the fears and pains of the world.
I don’t know how, but Peter Jackson did an AMAZING job interpreting the Lord of the Rings. It keeps all the elements of the symbolism and even adds to it, whether it be intentionally or not. The Grey Havens is a beautiful thing, representing the good that comes after evil. Just as the night will soon become day, good will soon overtake evil. It is a beautiful, beautiful analogy that makes me feel that we don’t have to be afraid of the future because it will all end with joy and gladness.
All those who go into the west may represent the apostasy, when God’s word left the earth. This leaves the thought of the restoration up to us, to decide for ourselves what the restored truth would have been like in Tolkien’s world. Who knows, maybe at one point I might write a short story of my own interpretation, unless of course anyone disagrees and lets me know if it’s a bad idea. I wouldn’t plan to publish, of course, but just as a blog. (Let me know your thoughts about that in the comments if you like!)
Anyhow, the Grey Havens is one of the best parts of the Tolkien world because it shows that Tolkien himself was confident in his future and prepared for the paradise he would come to after his death. It gives us a glimpse into the hopes and faith he had, which is amazing! I hope that we can all find it in us to be joyful about what is to come for us in the future. I sure would like to partake of such happiness!
Also, when Frodo goes into the west, he says goodbye to his friends who are all crying. This is especially comforting for those who have lost loved ones. It shows that, even when we mourn for our loved ones, we can be comforted that they will have endless joy and we will be able to be with them in that joy when it is our time. I don’t want to say I’m excited to die, because that sounds crazy or something, but I do want to say I am excited for the joy that will come from it!
And, now that I sound like I’m preaching or something, I will leave you with a quote:
“The grey-rain curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.” -J.R.R. Tolkien