The Hands of the King, The Hands of a Healer
The Touch, Call, and Spirit of the King
This year I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons for the first time. My character is a ranger who—at least initially—may or may not have a striking resemblance to a certain Strider (including “in a pale stern face a pair of keen grey eyes”). As I considered which spells for my character to learn this week and whether the immediate need of the party was for me to focus on healing spells or other spells, the concept of a Ranger who heals reminded me of an passage from The Return of the King that stood out to me last month when I came across it again.
In the chapter “The Houses of Healing” in The Return of the King, Faramir, Éowyn, and Merry all lie close to death in the eponymous Houses of Healing. Gandalf has sent for Aragorn, explaining that “it is only in the coming of Aragorn that any hope remains for the sick that lie in the House. Thus spoke Ioreth, wise-woman of Gondor: The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known.”1
The hands of the king are the hands of a healer.
While rereading this chapter to do research for last month’s paid subscriber essay, “New Life, In Defiance of Death,” I was struck by the Gondorian proverb quoted by Ioreth—“The hands of the king are the hands of a healer”—as well as by the pattern that emerges as Aragorn heals Faramir, Éowyn, and Merry.
For as the healer king heals each of them, he touches them, calls their name, and the room is filled with the fragrance of kingsfoil. Not only do we see Aragorn prove his kingship via this sign; we also find ourselves pointed to another King whose touch, call, and Spirit heal his people.
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