A Lesson from Gandalf

220px-The_Hobbit-_The_Desolation_of_Smaug_25On Hallowe’en, the merchants on Queen Anne Avenue provide treats during the afternoon. The sidewalks are thronged with big and little costumed kids, parents and grandparents, many also in costumes. The crowds are especially heavy around the doorways where the really good stuff is handed out. My granddaughter Nina, 6, in a gorgeous jeweled dress from India, and I, with ears, a tail, and a face painted with a black nose and whiskers, had somehow moved ahead of her grandfather, parents and little brother. Battling the crowds had been hard work, and we were both tired, so we headed for some chairs in front of Starbucks and sat down to wait for the others.

A big boy, maybe 8 or 9 years old, dressed like a very old man in a flowing white gown and long, scraggly gray hair and beard, came up. He planted his staff  right in front of us and said in an almost menacing voice, “Thou shalt not pass!”

I assumed he was a mean character who meant that we could not continue. Nina must have thought the same thing because she burst into tears. The boy left. Dad rushed up to comfort Nina, and Mom told us that the boy was not a mean person at all, he was Gandalf, the well known (but not by us) good magician from “Lord of the Ring.” In a famous scene, which I don’t remember at all, he had stopped an attack by some bad guys by planting his staff in front of them and declaring, “Thou shalt not pass!” These words have become famous–everyone knows them (except Nina and me).

When we were home again, Nina and I talked about the boy, how he had seemed to be a mean person when actually he was playing a good character. We talked about how sometimes we think a person isn’t nice or doesn’t like us, when actually he may be trying to play with us, to be our friend. We decided that if that happens again, we will be less quick to judge that person–maybe he is another Gandalf.


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