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A reader commenting on Jody’s bed post — so to speak — remarked that those tree-bed hybrids he was writing about looked like furniture for Rivendell.

Rivendell, of course, is the holy valley of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. That is, Tolkien never uses the word holy: fair, bright, blessed, good,yes, but never holy, as far as I can remember.

Still, holy it is. In Rivendell, a transcendent goodness dwells in the midst of a dark and perilous world. Travelers arrive there, staggering, exhausted, sick and in danger; travelers set out from there renewed in body, mind and purpose. It’s the abode of food and song and laughter and soul-refreshment. As Tolkien himself writes,

[Rivendell] was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley.

If you think that I am very sentimental about Rivendell, well, that’s one thing you know about me. Though it’s more like a monastery or a retreat house than an actual home — no children in Rivendell, for one thing — all my adult life I’ve traveled through a wildly varied succession of rooms and apartments and houses, in a wildly varied succession of cities and towns, looking for a place of which I could plausibly say, “This could be a little like Rivendell,” and where I could find myself at home.

Of course, that’s more than a tad unrealistic. If Rivendell were for sale, I couldn’t buy it. Even if I could, the fact of my living there would soon make it not like Rivendell any more, but like every other place I’ve lived, with my family and my dog and my cluttered desk and the lunch dishes neglected in the sink. It would be not elvish but us-ish, which isn’t a bad thing at all, only more workaday and with more fingerprints on the wall by the stairs.

Really, I think the longing for Rivendell — and I know I’m not the only one who feels it — is a sign of the greater longing for heaven. I’ve long since given up thinking that it’s a longing for something which actually exists, right now, materially, on this earth. But like our reader, I’m pleased when I see something which looks as though it could maybe belong there.

This chair, for example.

The company, Wisteria, used to carry a line of chairs I liked even better: real wood for a start (I think the one pictured here is resin), and they looked even more like parts of trees. But the lines of this one aren’t bad, if you’re looking for things elven.

These chairs are on sale now at $299.40, down from $499. I sort of think you might expect real wood, not faux bois, at these prices. One hates to be paying for the French terminology. Still, it is a prettyish sort of little chair.

[Rating: 83 out of 100]

Finally, a prayer for home, for peace and safety, and against evil things:

Visit, we beseech thee, O Lord, this habitation, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy: let thy holy Angels dwell herein to preserve us in peace, and let thy blessing be ever upon us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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