Hiking with Gandalf

GANDALFI’d always heard that wise men dwell  in remote caves somewhere on mountain tops, and that hearing their wisdom requires an arduous climb up a high peak.  But recently I had the privilege of taking a leisurely mountain hike with a companion who is Gandallf-esque in his wisdom. I’m telling you, he has a walking stick and everything.

You can never tell with these sages, but judging by his accumulated wisdom, I’d estimate he’s about 320 years old.

Gandalf pointed out something to me as we followed the winding mountain trail. Walking through life with wisdom requires that, most of the time, we keep our eyes on the path right in front of us. That way, we can take the next step without stumbling. Occasionally, we’ll come upon a clearing or an overlook. Then can we can survey our position and gain some valuable perspective as to where we are on our journey.

By the way, I would have missed several of those clearings during our hike if it were not for my guide calling my attention to them. I didn’t notice the scenic overlooks because I was busy looking down at the path.

But had I been constantly craning my neck and swiveling my head around, trying to get a wider view of my surroundings, I wouldn’t have seen the rock or the tree root right at my feet.

And that’s the thing. There’s a rhythm to this walk:

Path, path, path, perspective.

At times it seems like clearings come in clusters:

Perspective, path, path, perspective, path, perspective.

But, most of the time, there’s a whole lot of path before there’s any perspective:

Path, path, path, path, path, path, finally perspective!

But how do we know when to look down and when to look up?

The truth is that we walk with a Companion who is wiser than any cave-dwelling sage on the top of a mountain. The Spirit of Christ provides us His wise counsel and spiritual insight to enable us to walk in step with Him along the path. And, in His time, our Guide leads us to an overlook so that we might gain the perspective we need to keep making progress on our journey.

I’ve observed that paying attention takes some practice. I’ve also learned that if I am too eager to gain perspective, I can easily loose sight of the path right underneath my feet, and end up taking a nasty fall.

But our Companion never leaves us down, and never leaves us behind. If we reach out our hand, He’ll lift us up, and continue to show us the way. He also gives us travel companions so that we might never hike alone. In fact, as we walk the path of life, one of the ways we give attention to our Guide is by paying attention to the counsel and insight He offers us through the Gandalfs (or Galadriels) He puts in our lives.

That reminds me to wish Gandalf an early happy 321st birthday.

8 thoughts on “Hiking with Gandalf

  1. Love this one! I love the perspective, path, path reminder. Sometimes it feels like path, path, path, path….am I ever going to get the perspective. It never fails that God opens our eyes to it at just the right time. Thanks for sharing! 😀

    • Thanks for the feedback, KB. I must confess I do not like to wait for perspective. I’d much rather look backward with understanding than live forward with questions. That’s why it’s called a walk of faith, I suppose 🙂

  2. Dave, I love this! I have some Gandalfs in my life too, the writing life, the mom-life, the wife-life. Those who share their wisdom with me and help me avoid some of the rocks and tree roots that would otherwise stumble me.

    That being said, there have been many times (and knowing me, there will be many more) where I will have my eyes in the wrong place because my perspective is off. I’m looking far ahead, and wondering “What If” instead of the next step in my path. Ah, the balance…such an elusive thing sometimes.

    I loved your thoughts here. And your drawing. As always. 🙂

    • Thank you so very much for your compliments and your good comments. I am glad that you are privileged to walk with the wise, because that makes all the difference. And, oh yes, looking in the wrong places and looking too far ahead, those are familiar tripping hazards for me, too. This may sound funny, but, just when I start to think I know what life’s about, the Spirit reveals to me that I am getting restless and impatient,so that I am not paying close attention to what God is doing right now, in the unfolding moments. I’m reminded again to quiet down, listen to God, look to God, and walk step by step with Him.

  3. As a family law attorney, a big part of my job is helping people find perspective and guiding their legal path. It’s actually lovely to be guided by those wiser than me and by the Wisest of All. I had an interesting lesson on perspective this week. The day before I had surgery the opening line of a devotional I’m reading said “DO NOT WORRY ABOUT TOMORROW!” Complete with the caps and exclamation point. I was very reassured. I took the devotional with me to read on the way to the hospital thinking I would find more reassurance. The opening line was “SELF-PITY IS A SLIMY BOTTOMLESS PIT.” Lest I was inclined to go there, I guess. Cracked me up and took the whine right out of my sail!

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Shel. Being anxious about the future is a sure way to lose perspective, so that ALL CAPS message was a timely warning to sidestep the worry trap. Your second warning to avoid the slimy pit of self-pity assures me that Someone wiser than Solomon was imparting His counsel to you in a time when you were vulnerable. I do hope you are recovering well from surgery.

  4. I love, love, love this post, Dave. Our family has always hiked (well, until I got tired the past few years), so I know all about path, path, path … could go on, but I won’t. It’s true that perspective is there somewhere, I just happen to like it to show up the minute I want it.

    And so funny about Gandalf – I once had a guide and I’m guessing she was about that same age. Betty G. 😉 was a wise one.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words. I am so glad you found a personal connection to the theme. I really should hike more than I do. If I did, maybe I’d learn to wait for perspective 🙂 I’m usually impatient for the wider view, too.
      And here’s to the honored memory of the wise Betty G.

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