I’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.