Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Two Wolves Story

The two wolves story is said to have originated with the Cherokee peoples, but is also a traditional story in many other Native American people groups. The story is most often told by a grandfather to his grandchild or grandchildren, and this is how it came to me. The wisdom and spirituality contained within is clearly from the Creator, Wakan Tanka, God. And, if the wisdom were applied to our lives the world would be very much different and beautiful.

When I was a youngster, our family always returned to northeastern Montana where my father’s family grew up. All the cousins of the eleven children of James and Eliza Watters would gather at the home in town, Nashua, or out at Uncle Arvie’s ranch. We would play, ride ponies, learn to drive farm equipment, hunt with bows and arrows and more. Grandfather would chew plug tobacco, tell stories, play his mouth harp and pass on his wisdom learned in hard times.

Inevitably, the two wolves story would come up. Many of us children were being raised in California where violence and corruption were prevalent. Yet, in Montana life seemed to be another world; people cared about each other, were kind and always helpful, even if they didn’t know you. Whether we asked the question, or Grandpa just felt the need to share, the two wolves story became important to us, and even more so as we grew into adults.

“Grandfather, why is there so much killing and cruelty in the world?” we would ask. “My children, inside each of us are two wolves who are fighting each other,” began Grandfather. “There is a dark wolf who is filled with hatred, lust, greed, evil, and selfishness. There is also a white wolf who is filled with kindness, compassion, selflessness and love. They cannot exist together, so they battle within us.” “But, Grandfather,” we ask, “Which one wins?” And Grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”

I have told this short, but powerful story many times as a parent and storyteller, and in my adult years my faith has drawn me to Bible passages which seem to speak about the two wolves story. It could almost be applied to discipleship in the sense of imitating Christ Jesus? Personally, Philippians 4:8-9 seems to be an exhortation to “feed the good wolf”?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

May you feed the good wolf and teach your children and grandchildren to do likewise.

Patrick Perching Eagle Watters

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