Elves. They have often been a puzzle to me, for even when reading tales by the same author, there seem to be inconsistencies in their nature. Some stories depict them as quite light-hearted and cheery, who even make up the silliest songs and make jest of those who are more serious. Yet others show them as being quite grave and somber, though wise. I have wrestled with these accounts (some even in different parts of the same story), but at last I think I have discovered their secret, and if you will humor my trail into fantasy I will even draw some spiritual insights from the study.
The clue to the unity of this seeming contradiction is found in one sentence. “The future, good or ill, ceased to have any power over the present.” (Fellowship of the Ring, 307) Elves, reputedly, have great wisdom, but also keen spiritual insight. They are fully aware of all the evil in the world around them, and indeed worked to help protect others from and even attempt to overcome it. This accounts for their solemnity. They were not light-hearted because they refused to acknowledge or were ignorant of the realities of life.
No, they could be light-hearted because what was in the world had no power over them. Granted, they would never take lightly something that was truly serious (the matter of the Ring for instance), and in that analogy I would say that they would therefore not make light of sin (because the Ring is very analogous to sin in general in many ways which I will not discuss here). They were fully aware of the seriousness of sin. They had great compassion and would not make light of the misfortunes of others. But they would take lightly that which was of no consequence.
At will, they could be jovial and merry with the best. Though they did not forget about the bad in the world, they chose to not let it affect them. They could separate the heaviness of serious topics from their overall demeanor so that when they were not discussing them, they could be light and cheery. In a way, I think the merriness was almost necessary to lighten the burden of their knowledge. If they continually lived in light of the grim realities of life, they would indeed be continually downcast, even sorrowful. But they kept in mind the real Truth that overpowered every other in the world; that what is in this world is not the end or the most powerful. Though there is evil in this world, it will not endure or win.
John 16:33 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
While we do need to take certain things seriously, like sin and the misfortunes of others, we should not let those realities keep us downcast or solemn.
Colossians 3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
We have the true light in us, the Light that can give us true peace in the midst of the worst circumstances, the Light that has overcome the prince of darkness and will one day completely overthrow him. We need to have joy and live in light of the overarching truth: that Jesus has defeated sin, death and Satan, He lives inside us, and one day we will spend eternity with Him in glory.
Revelation 21:3-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”