We Were Wolves Once…
I have always loved something about this meme. Not just about dogs and wolves but about our own sense of adventure that can be bound in by our desire for comfort. We do not wish to fail, we do not want risk, we want three square meals and warm bed… and this means, ultimately, we want control.
I don’t consider myself an adventuresome person. I’m a homebody. I like couches. And yet… I find myself living now in Idaho foothills, and before that in coastal Florida… a Polish boy from Chicago stranded in a land with no snow! I was a chaplain in inner-city Atlanta, which scarred the hell out of me on most days. I even shocked those who knew me before that and lived in the Philippines for a year. So much adventure. How did that happen???
But I’ll come back to that in a moment. First, back to the dogs who were wolves once. I have been seeking to find a time to write for a week but nothing quite stuck for a theme… lots of threads I want to play with but nothing said, “Stop what you are doing and write this!” Then I saw this article from the Christian Science Monitor about when and where we domesticated wolves into dogs. And it was a beautiful moment of intersectionality with an earlier conversation. You see our world has a convoluted relationship with wolves. We love and hate them. We hunt and restrict them. Wolves mess with our comfort and our control and so the wolf becomes a symbol of that which untamed, wild, unpredictable… and even scary.
But dogs are our “best friend.” So long as they are docile and controllable… not too much like the wolf from which they sprang. And this is what connected for me. This morning at our women’s bible study I went running off down a rabbit trail (the wolf in me?) to one of my favorite stories. The Ark narrative (1 Samuel 4:1-7:1). After the ark falls into the hands of the Philistines they set it before their god Dagon to assert Dagon’s primacy and power over the god of Israel as represented in the Ark of Covenant. The next day however the people find the statue of Dagon is lying on its face before the Ark. They pick him up and stand him up again as is “right.” But the next day not only is the statue lying down but its head and hands (speech and action) are cut off. The Philistines are mortified and when coupled with tumors that have broken out throughout the region they decide this ark is too powerful and onerous to bear and they send it away.
Note: They thought their god was more powerful than the god of Israel but that doesn’t prove true. Confronted with the ark as truly powerful but uncontrollable (as evidence by the way they defeated Israel in battle to capture the ark because God who not be controlled, even by God’s own chosen people) and their own god as controllable but not actually powerful… they choose their god Dagon over the God of Israel. The chose to control a false god, over an uncontrolled but potent one.
And this story then repeats itself… with the people of Gath… and the people of… and of… and of. Even Israel seems loath to take back the ark. Because…. God is a wolf, not a dog. I don’t mean to say that God isn’t loving and caring and loyal and even… as Jesus said to his disciples, “a friend.” But what God isn’t is domesticated. God will NOT BE DOMESTICATED! CS Lewis nailed that in the Chronicles of Narnia when Beaver tells the kids, “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
God isn’t moldable to our desires and needs… God isn’t made in our image. God is wild and warry and woolly and an adventure. You have to be ready to adventure when you take up God’s way. You have to willing to risk, to give up, to let go, to imagine, to jump… to get up off the couch.
I did. I don’t know how and where or when. And the Christian Science Monitor hasn’t asked to research into that either strangely 😉 But a journey with God is a journey about letting go of our need to control, to seek a status-quo kind of comfort, and domesticate life. Its about getting in touch with our inner wolf and following our alpha wolf in the way… the way of Jesus Christ.
And as much a homebody as I am… I can’t help but continually find myself caught up in the adventure of life. In the “call of the wild.” In the way of picking up a cross daily and finding what adventure awaits. Thanks be to God.