Follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s.
1st Corinthians 11:1
My Grandpa Simey was a gentle man of few words. In today's dog-eat-dog world his quiet leadership would probably be overlooked. But, a child's heart is drawn to quiet leadership like a moth to flame. At least that was the case for me. And judging by all of our old black and white photos - it was the case for my unc' as well. It didn't matter where Gramps was or what he was doing, we wanted to be there in his shadow.
Do not mistake his quiet leadership for passivity, however. My Gramps was actually quite an adventurer, especially if it meant wandering the Allegheny foothills with one of his pooches at his side. Whenever Grandpa's wanderlust for adventure would strike, we would beg him to take us with him. I suppose that's where the Bilbo Baggins in me got its start.
Traversing the mountains in Pennsylvania was no small walk in the woods. It was serious business. Copperhead and rattlesnakes make their abode under the rocks and in the caves of those hills. As do black bear.
A hike in the woods Pied Piper-style meant an oft-repeated reminder from Gramps of the dangers lurking. Yet, I don't remember a single time I ever felt afraid following his lead. Well-equipped with his walking stick that he swung back and forth in front him to alert snakes and his constant whistling to warn off bears, we felt safe wherever the path might take us.
After my precious Grandpa left his beloved mountains of Pennsylvania behind to traverse heavenly ones with His Savior, all trips up into those hills stopped. Oh...my Uncle Ron would occasionally pick up my Grandpa's "baton" from time-to-time to lead us on excavations of his farm property up in the hills of Scandia. But, we never again went back on Grandpa's trails.
Then, one summer long years past, while the boys and I were out visiting my Grams, my Uncle Randy, lovingly known as unc' to us nieces and nephews, flew into town from Texas with one long-held desire...to get back up into those hills and find the little cemetery that he and Gramps had created for our dogs, Queenie and Ginger. So the five of us piled into Grams' car one afternoon and wound our way up and around those mountain roads to set off on an adventure.
But, it was easier said than done. We found ourselves driving back-and-forth and back-and-forth trying to remember where the trail began. At first nothing looked familiar. Then, when we had nearly given up hope, Randy spotted one of the many markers he and Gramps had placed in the woods so long ago for just such an occasion.
We parked the car, solemly walked over to the edge of the road, and stood motionless looking up into the rolling hills. None of us wanted to take that first step. It had belonged to Grandpa...our trustworthy leader with his walking stick and whistle.
My unc' finally broke the silence by hoisting Kyle on his shoulders saying, "Well, someone's got to take the first step, so it might as well be us!" And off they went whistling a merry tune.
I yelled out, "Randy, what about snakes??!!!" He stopped knee-deep in ferns, turned to me with a smile on his face and said, "Jul', don't worry. Just follow me." With a little flutter of fear my Grams, Erik and I did just that. Several minutes later we found ourselves gathered around the rock-covered mounds that served as our beloved dogs' grave markers. And all those wonderful memories came flooding back once more.
I've often thought about that day. It was sort of a stake-in-the-ground moment for me, really. A realization that there comes a time in every life when we are called to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone on before us...to forge the way, rather than stand frozen there at trails edge. God was calling, and calls to me still, to step into the void...into those big shoes of my Grandpa's...for the sake of those who are coming behind. A realization that the very best way to honor my Grandpa's quiet leadership in my life was to follow his example just as he followed Christ's.
If you are really humble, if you realize how small you are and how much you need God, then you cannot fail.
I'm, hopping belatedly over from Ann's link up, and was instantly caught up in your story, since I was close to my grandpa too. Hmm, what sweet memories you and your uncle have of hiking with him. ( I didn't know PA had rattlers!)
Wow, what a touching chance to step back into those trails years later, remembering your grandpa, and honoring him together, and the life he lived that pointed you to Jesus too. Special.
Have a nice week,