Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cairns - The Wolf and the Pyrenees

I love telling stories, especially true ones. It was one of the things I love most about being a first grade teacher, a college professor, a mother, a missionary, a pastor's wife, a writer ... I guess I have told stories wherever I have gone! I told one recently to middle school girls I spoke to, and it has resonated deeply in my own heart and mind. It did not come from an illustration book, the internet, Aesop, or the back of a cereal box. :) It was told to us by a rancher we met in Wyoming this summer. It is true, and it was very appropriately told to me in this season ... of CAIRNS.

Creeping up to the Wind River Mountains, the hills are like a mother's skirt spread on the grass at a picnic. They are yellow when the sun goes down, mostly covered by sage and grass and wildflowers. Sometimes the pronghorn antelope graze there, and prairie dog colonies literally pop up between the hills. The ranchers use the grassland to graze herds of cattle and sheep that are scattered widely all over the hills, like poppy seeds on a casserole crust.

Many sheep are kept in the valley of the Green River. Since it is below Yellowstone, where wolves have been reintroduced, the Valley has become a more dangerous zone for feeding flocks alone on distant meadows. A local rancher decided to get a watchdog for his flock; he chose a Great Pyrenees. The steadfast dog was assigned the care and protection of the sheep and guarded them diligently.

Nearby, wolves had moved into his territory, but the hunter didn't dare enter the group. Instead, he lingered along the outer edges of the flock, content to sit and watch from a distance. The troubled Pyrenees began to relax when he realized that the wolf was not threatening his livestock.

It wasn't long before the wolf began to approach the flock, but the dog was relieved when the predator didn't make an attempt for the sheep. He relaxed more and noticed the wolf was actually becoming friendly. He responded to the new friend's advances, so gradually the wolf and Pyrenees began to play together. Once "enemies," they now became friends.

Still there was no evidence the presence of the wolf was really a danger. The Pyrenees accepted the fact that the wolf was a welcome part of his world.

Night came, and while the sheep settled in to sleep in the security of their watch care, the wolf moved in. Night after night, he stole in and crept away with victim after victim ... misunderstood, overexpected, underappreciated, threat? Now known for the threat that he was. And a high price was paid by the sheep when their protector embraced as a friend the one who was truly the enemy.

If he had entered with his teeth bared and his fur standing tall, letting his echo reverberate through the Valley, the Pyrenees would've be on the offense, aggressively guarding those he was given to protect. But wolves don't always do that. Sometimes they do come as friends.

May God give us discernment and wisdom to watch for wolves in our own lives and to be insightful in our watch care for those in our flocks. Getting friendly with a wolf carries too high of a price to ignore.


2 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

rene said...

Thank you for this timely reminder. It's not the big sins that we are often tempted to do . . . it's those pesky little ones that seem to be so harmless that break us.

Kristi said...

thank you for that powerful story.