Some eleven years ago I was recovering from a very bad romantic involvement and one that resulted in my questioning both love itself and its relationship to human character. This as also in the wake of my working as a volunteer at a youth and drug project in London, a job which I took as I was considering training for ministry, and I am sure that some of this parable extends from my experience there.
An angel and a wolf met one day. The angel was on earth for its own reasons and when she came across this wolf she was brought up short. His coat was matted with old blood and his paws were caked with all manner of filth and grime, but in his hungry and haunted eyes she saw both the ferocity and loneliness of the wolfe’s life. He was wounded and sick with his wounds, and in the natural pity which the angel held for all wounded creatures she loved him.
The wolf was wary at first and kept his distance, but in time, as the angel selflessly ministered to the wretched beast, he began to trust her and in his eyes she was his love too. Nevertheless, the wolf knew little of real love and would snap at the angel whenever she would touch an old and festering wound. Whether she was trying to ease its obvious discomfort or inadvertently aggravating some unsuspected hurt by her affectionate petting, the wolf would lunge and bite with the speed of practiced brutality, honed by pain, and the angel could only nurse her wounds by herself.
One day, the wolf, grown strong and healthy because of the angel’s care, bit her deeply and, in his attack, bore her to the ground. Suddenly standing over her and seeing her so beautiful but so humiliated by his own bestiality, the wolf’s heart opened and he saw himself fully reflected in her eyes – which is the property of real love. He saw himself, the hunter, the seeker, the killer, the animal, saw the old scars and healing sores which he knew were healing only because of her love, and he suddenly knew himself to be a wolf.
The angel, her pity shattered by the wolf’s brutality, suddenly knew the animal for himself and the glamour of the beast died for her in that instant. Though the wolf would then play and roll as a tame puppy, he could not catch again the fancy of the angel, and he began to realize that he might never hold her fascination again.
“I suppose there is nothing for it but to be simply a wolf,” he said, “for how can a wolf earn the love of an angel? What wolf truly knows how to love? How can I remain a wolf when I have been loved by an angel? How can I be anything but a wolf if she knows me as one and therefore abandons me to it?”
The wolf put his great nose to the earth and wept, and his tears rolled down his lips and fell to the dust in large drops from his yellow fangs.
Now there are a number of things here that are problematic, showing particularly the Christian bias under which I was labouring at the time. Unfortunately, I have not time to get into them here but hope to come back before too long…