The Gray Wolf and the Wind

gray wolf advancing“I COMMAND YOUR DAY,” he growls, that gray wolf of late assignments and neglected duties. “I will eat your life, will consume your energy, will wear you out for no gain.” He relishes his role. “I don’t even care if you succeed in your tasks. It’s your soul, your spirit I am after. I can throw you crumbs of accomplishment and you will eat them eagerly and still you will starve.”

I am beaten. I slump against a fallen log and sit with hollow resignation, waiting for his teeth to tear my heart. I can fight no longer. I have nothing left to throw up in my defense. He circles the tree, my form, with gritty pleasure. He licks his chops and chomps his teeth in anticipation.   I wait.

My heart faintly whispers a plea, helpless and with no faith to send it upward, it hangs upon my lips and drops to the ground. I am defeated.

“But I am not.” An angel has seated herself beside me on the fallen log. She removes her cloak and wraps it round my shoulders. It is warm and smells of adventure. It wraps my soul. Then she stands and plants her staff in the ground. She draws a circle in the dirt, surrounding me, surrounding the log, surrounding herself.   “This place is claimed as holy,” she proclaims.

The wolf is pacing now, angry, suspicious and with glaring eye. He charges at the circle, but at the last moment diverts his steps. He growls and throws his anger at the circle, at the two of us within it. He rails against the barrier and gnashes his teeth. “Why do come you to rescue this pitiful soul?” he demands of the angel. “Why waste your effort on one who has nothing to give, not even a whimper of resistance. This one is of no value to you. Leave her and let me finish my feast, it is no loss to you.”

“If she is insignificant, why do you want her so?” The angel asks.

“I gain pleasure in defeat… she is giving me what I desire.” The wolf replies.

“You want to extend your kingdom beyond its current boundaries, but she belongs to another kingdom, exists within another’s realm. You cannot claim her soul. You see, it is you that have been defeated already. Eating at her only feeds your fantasy that you can regain what you have already lost.”   The angel is calm and measured in her reply, but it is clear that she is on her guard. Confrontation with a wolf is not to be taken lightly.

“Fool, fool!” The wolf shrieks and paces. “You think your words can put me off, you think that you have strength against me when it is obvious that I have the power of this world. You cannot resist me.”

He cannot contain himself in his anger. But instead of charging the circle, as it seemed to me that he would do, he turns and charges off into the woods.

When we are alone, the angel turns to me and helps me to my feet. Her cloak is still wrapped around my shoulders. She grasps my shoulders in her hands and gazes into my eyes. “Do not give in to despair. The great wolf’s only power is deceit. Do not give in.” Her voice both pleads and commands. “Take this cloak, this staff and claim your ground as holy. Do not let him enter.”

As the angel turns to go, she slips a leather belt from her waist and hands me a pouch that was hanging from it. “Do not forget to eat.” She says, quietly. “Feed your soul on truth, on the words of hope, on relationship.” Then she is gone.

I sit upon the log, wrap the cloak around me and open the pouch. I eat the manna with a grateful heart. Around my heart I draw a circle with the staff. “I claim this as holy ground,” I whisper and hold the staff tightly in my hands.

My heart whispers a prayer of its own, “Save me from the wolf’s breath.”

The wind answers. “I will save.”

 10-20-95

[image cropped from photo by Kurt Bauschardt per cc 2.0]

the choice

gray choiceMy mind is pretty muddy lately
I wander in circles and find myself nowhere
Where did I put that bit of wisdom that I thought I held?

I need eyes that see – that clear the fog around me and pierce through to hope.
And yet, I have no secret in my heart to take me there.
I am bereft.

Is this where it ends?
Or where it begins?

It seems my impotent soul must make a choice –
The only power left to me –
The power to give up
Or the power to let go.

It seems the same choice, but it is not.
One leads to despair,
The other plants a seed for hope.
One leads only to ashes,
The other looks for a phoenix from the fire.

The idea of giving up
Sits on the edge of my awareness and grins it’s cruel grin,
Telling me that I might as well accept the truth of futility.
Why struggle anymore against the inevitable?
Why sacrifice if it leads to naught?
Better to hunker down and protect, as best I can,
What is still within my grasp.
It is the easy choice – requiring only the merest nod of agreement –
And the abdication of my faith.

But there is a false bluster in that specter’s grin.
It is not so confident as it seems.
It’s eyes are never smiling.
The upturned lips are really a scowl –
A mask it wears to fool the world,
Hoping to convince itself, as well.

If I am to die – and we all do –
Then I would rather die an open soul, held in relationship.
Than one curled tight around fear and despair.

And so, I release my small nothing into your grace.
And decide against despair.
I turn away from the hard, empty scowl of discouragement.
And seek the warm smile of friendship and of hope.
It is the best that I can do, today.

[image cropped from photo by Antoine K per cc 2.0]