Ponderings in Elfland

Where Master Storyteller and Tolkien Artist Jef Murray shares his insights on God’s Grace.

May Eve

Artwork © by Jef Murray

“Do you think she’ll come back?” The two girls sat huddled beneath the eaves of the forest. The unsettled breezes of the last day of April stirred the dogwood boughs, mottling the light of the newly-risen full moon. The gusts of damp air moved on, lifting branches and scattering oak catkins throughout the valley below them. “I don’t think she’ll […]

On Fairy Tales — A rhapsody on themes from G.K. Chesterton & J.R.R. Tolkien

Artwork © by Jef Murray

As a Catholic artist and storyteller, what interests me most are those things that help us all to make sense of the world around us. And what most helps us to make sense of the world, and our lives in it, are the stories that have been handed down to us throughout the ages. What are those stories? They are […]

The Pact

Artwork © by Jef Murray

“It protects you from all physical harm, my dear Sir, and even from death itself; but it cannot protect you from evil,” said the old woman, holding up the necklace to the light. It was fashioned of silver and jet, and the dingy shards of sunlight that struck the petrified stones cast a rainbow of hues against the opposite walls […]

Gandalf the Prophet — There is More to Life

Gandalf the Prophet (detail) Artwork © by Jef Murray

“…there is something greater, much greater, and grander, and happier ‘beyond the veil’, and even perhaps beyond the next turn of the subway train, than anything we can conceive of. There is an enchantment that underlies all of creation, and that exists around the next corner, if only we seek for it.” ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ “Today, I want […]

The Finding Ring

"The Last Ring of Power" (detail) Artwork © by Jef Murray

“So, you see, my greatest desire is to continue on the path laid before me, and to discover what I can and to protect those I may. That is my own heart’s deepest desire, and it is only one’s deepest desires that the ring stirs. So, you see, it can have little effect on me.” ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ […]

An Ode to Glamour

Artwork © by Jef Murray

“Far over the Misty Mountains cold, To dungeons deep and caverns old, We must away, ere break of day, To seek our pale enchanted gold.” The poem and song echo through my mind this week. It is a fact that I never heard a melody setting for Tolkien’s original poem that truly fit it; that is, until Howard Shore’s recent […]

The Case of the Plugged Painting: A Sam Newbuck Mystery

Artwork © by Jef Murray

I was sitting at my easel, working out how the light should fall on my latest painting of Great Smials, when all of a sudden, I heard a gunshot. Since I live on the seedy side of New Bree, I normally wouldn’t have paid it any attention; but this time the bullet ripped right through my canvas. “Damned orcs,” I muttered as I pulled out my .357. My name’s Newbuck: Sam Newbuck. […]

Alatar Speaks

“It is true that the Hobbits were the first to put pipeweed into a pipe and set fire to it,” said the old man. “But, it is also true that I was the first to make the latter step unnecessary.” Alatar drew gently on the odd device in his hand and blew several smoke rings, each of which neatly threaded […]

The Fall of Atlan

Armenelos the Golden Artwork © by Jef Murray

Brother Aran, Charles, and Azarias spent midsummer’s eve touring the piazzas and avenues surrounding the Benedictine monastery. Brother Aran played tour guide, pointing out the many ancient and ofttimes cryptic pre-Roman structures that poked capitals and arches up through the veneer of shops, restaurants, and business suites. Charles and Azarias made full use of the monk’s expertise, prying him with […]

Journeying to Jerusalem

Satan Tempting Christ Sketch © by Jef Murray

When I think of Lent, a bubbling brew-pot of images boils in my head. Most of them have to do with Mardi Gras, that tinsel trollop of Catholic feast days. I can recollect more strangeness associated with Lent and Mardi Gras than with any other liturgical season. We were never actually in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, although Lorraine and I were there once […]